Harry's Unbirthday gift – Chapter 2
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)
When I started writing this I really it would be a short. Ah well.
– – (()) – –
"Ow!" Harry said, as he slowly became aware of his surroundings and wished that he had remained blissfully oblivious.
"Madam Pomfrey, Harry's awake!" Harry heard Luna say, although in a thankfully quiet voice.
As Harry tried to open his eyes, he felt some sort of cloth that was not letting any light leak through brushing against his eyelashes. Deciding that his head hurt enough that he did not need to see right then, he closed his eyes, hearing several sets of different footsteps approach from his left.
"Mr. Potter?" Poppy's voice asked when the footsteps stopped.
"Yes?" Harry responded.
"I'm sure you're in some pain; we can help you sit up so you can drink something that will help," Poppy said in a soothing voice.
"Yes, please," Harry answered, in too much pain to really say much more.
"Here, Harry, I'm on your right side, lean on me, and I'll support you," Luna's voice said, although much like Poppy's voice had done, Luna's voice helped soothe Harry's jarred nerves.
"Unh," Harry agreed, as he let Luna help him sit up, before a cup was then put into his hands, and she helped him drink from it. As promised, the pain receded quickly enough that Harry was able to say "Thanks!" in a more normal voice.
"You're welcome, Mr. Potter," Poppy said. "Now if you'll keep your eyes closed, I need to remove that bandage and check on how that scar is healing."
"Keep my eyes closed, right," Harry said, as he did as he was instructed as he felt different sensations against his head.
After a few moments, Poppy sighed and spoke again while it felt like she replaced the large bandages covering Harry's eyes. "Lassie, you may help Mr. Potter lay back down."
"May I remain propped up?" Harry asked. "I don't like talking to people while looking up their noses."
"Snerk!" came from Luna, although Harry could feel her arranging his pillow behind him and then helping him scoot back a bit.
"Not that you'll be seeing up anyone's noses today, Mr. Potter," Poppy said, although Harry could hear a hint of a smile in her voice. "Mrs. Hawks has warned me that your eyes will be very sensitive for another twelve hours or so. Just to be safe, I plan on keeping your eyes bandaged for several hours longer than that."
"Did Mrs. Hawks leave already?" Harry asked.
"She left late yesterday, Harry," Luna answered, "but she left a rather complete set of instructions on how to care for you."
"Yesterday? How long have I been out of it?"
"This is the second day since the ritual, Mr. Potter," Poppy answered. "For a completely unprecedented change, you're responding to your treatment exactly as Mrs. Hawks expected."
"Hermione will kill me if I miss the placement tests!" Harry exclaimed.
"Miss Granger, and the Misses Patil, have been very worried, Mr. Potter, so I don't expect they'll seek to put you back in my care right away," Poppy said sternly.
"Ron and nearly everyone who participated in the ritual have been by to see you, Harry," Luna put in. "And I think I heard Headmaster Greengrass say that the placement tests can wait until you're up and have a new wand."
"A new wand?" Harry had to ask.
"Mrs. Hawks believes that your old wand won't be a match for you any longer now that you've been through that second ritual. She also thinks you'll have a bit of trouble casting for a week or so while your core heals as well."
"A second ritual?"
"Yes, Harry, a second ritual. It seems that the first ritual revealed that your scar contained what Mrs. Hawks called a vile and evil spirit. Mrs. Hawks asked Headmaster Greengrass if she could remove the spirit bit right away, and our Headmaster used his in loco parentis authority and agreed to let her remove the possessing spirit without delay. Mrs. Hawks warned us afterward that your eyes would be very sensitive to light for a short while, and, after running some tests, Madam Pomfrey agreed that the spirit had been bleeding into your core, which is why your wand might not work for you any longer," Luna explained.
"Voldemort was possessing me?"
"Yes, Mr. Potter," Addison said as he entered the hospital wing. "It seems you were carrying around a bit of Mr. Riddle's soul. I hope you do not mind, but I've contacted the Unspeakables and have given them the doll Mrs. Hawks created in her ritual."
"Just great," Harry groused somewhat. "I'm the subject of more weirdness."
"I must disagree with you, Mr. Potter." Addison interrupted Harry before his self pity party could get really started. "This is a continuation of your earlier issues, and not a new issue. And since you are no longer possessed, it is very likely that the dreams, at least, should stop."
"Thank you, Headmaster," Luna said quickly. She was glad Harry had been pulled from his impending funk.
"So, what have the Unspeakables found out, Sir?" Harry asked while he regretted the lost chance to really sulk.
"They have not shared anything with me yet, Mr. Potter," Addison answered. "I would, however, like to discuss something with you that Mrs. Hawks strongly suggested before she left."
"Sir?" Harry asked.
"Mrs. Hawks would like you to go through a cleansing regimen. While the possessing soul has been removed, it was in place for so long that your core has been affected; a cleansing regimen will help with the healing. I informed Miss Granger and Miss Patil about Mrs. Hawks' request, since you were leaning toward staying with one of them over the winter break, just in case their parents objected to the requirements of such a regimen. Miss Patil has heard back from her father, and he has offered to help you perform a Vedic Agnihotra ritual of cleansing."
"Do you know what that means, Headmaster?" Luna asked
"Not much, I must admit, but what I have found seems to indicate that the Agnihotra is a non-sectarian ritual for healing and purification. The non-magical use the ritual as a means of gathering sacred ash. Since the ritual is non-sectarian, Mr. Potter is eligible to participate. With this kind offer from Mr. Patil, I recommend you spend the winter break in India, and thus benefit from this ritual."
"Is there anything I would need to do to prepare for this additional ritual?" Harry asked, somewhat at sea with all the different rituals that were suddenly focused on him.
"Miss Patil would be a better person to ask, but it sounds like you won't be able to take any more potions after tomorrow," Addison answered sharing what little he knew.
Addison then changed the subject after a brief pause. "Now as I entered, I heard your pet explain that your wand will likely not work for you any longer. As a result, I am planning for us to take a trip to Diagon Alley tomorrow after you are released, with the primary focus being a visit to Ollivander's. He will be the best judge as to whether if you will need a new wand."
"Shouldn't Harry wait until his core has been healed or at least been cleansed?" Luna felt moved to ask.
"An excellent question, Lassie." Addison praised the girl. "If we were not in the middle of a school year, I expect Mr. Potter would go nearly the entire summer before getting a new wand. But we are in a school year, and Mr. Potter needs a working wand to pass his normal exams. Also, while wands are not needed much in the Arithmancy and Ancient Runes exams, a partially working wand is helpful. That said, it is possible that Mr. Potter will need yet another trip to Ollivander's at the start of next term after going through the Agnihotra."
"I think that is enough for the moment, Headmaster," Poppy interrupted before anyone else could say anything. "Mr. Potter looks to be fighting sleep to me, and to be honest, his eyes will heal better if he's sleeping."
Luna scolded him as she help him lay back down. "Harry, you should've said something,.
"I just became very tired, Luna," Harry just about managed to say around a very big yawn. His misnaming of his pet showing exactly how tired he had become.
"Sleep, Harry, I'll be here when you wake up," Luna said in a soothing voice, and from the deep breaths coming from the boy in the bed, it was likely Harry had not heard more the first two words.
– – (()) – –
"Monthly Bill, Monthly Curse, Riding the Stick, On the Rag, Riding the Cotton Pony..." Padma recited the list to herself as she curled into a ball on her bed. They were leaving for the Christmas holidays in two days, and her father had notified his daughters that he was planning to perform Harry's ritual as soon as possible during the holidays. That meant no potions of any kind for the week before leaving school, which meant that when their monthlies, or as Parvati liked to say, their Monthly Volcanoes of Doom started neither of the Patil girls could take the normal potions Poppy could provide. And suffering through her Crimson Wave without the benefit of those potions could be described as suffering through a bout of the Cruciatus in Padma's case.
"Oh, Padma!" a soft voice whispered above her.
"Go Away!" Padma cried. She would get through this without cursing the idiot that had just invaded her space. She would!
The visitor did not leave though; instead a pair of soft hands pressed themselves on Padma's back, and, and, and... some of the pain faded away, leaving a warm and pleasant feeling warring with the remaining pain.
"Wha?" Padma mumbled in shock.
"Your sister told me what you'd be going through, and your minder got me up here to help," the soft voice said. "If you uncurl a bit, I could help some more."
"Luna?" Padma managed to pin the voice to a name.
"Well, it's Lassie now, Padma, but I don't expect you remember that right now."
"I can't... Father ...ritual." Padma tried to convey her worry, but the absence of pain felt so good.
"This isn't a potion, Padma, it's a spell my mum came up with since she had such a rough time during her periods. She figured I'd have my first period here at Hogwarts, and so had prepared a set of instructions for me to follow, since she figured I'd have a hard time with the cramps like she did."
"Ohhhhh," Padma moaned in bliss as she uncurled and felt one of Luna's hands move to just below her belly button. More relief followed that hand, and Padma was able to turn her head and look up at her savior.
"Because you're hurting, and I could help," Luna answered. "Harry's very worried, he likes you a lot, you know, and would want me to help, even if I hadn't already decided to try."
Padma smiled at Luna even though looking at her over her shoulder was uncomfortable.
"I hoped I was reading Harry right, Luna, because I like Harry a lot too."
"I'm Lassie now, you know."
"Right now you're no pet, you're a lifesaver, and that makes you Luna in my eyes."
"Well, I guess that's true, but I'm not helping you to help Harry, you know."
"I do know, Luna. Is this spell something you can teach me?"
"Well, yes, but it isn't something I can teach you today. It's a very hard spell to learn while you're hurting."
"You sound like you know from experience, Luna."
"Well, I do. Mum didn't expect she'd die when I was nine, and thought she'd be able to actually teach me before I left for Hogwarts. The instructions she wrote were to remind me, and I didn't look at them until I was already suffering."
"Oh, I'm sorry about your mum, Luna."
"I do miss her, but I have you and Harry now, and that helps. Daddy is pleased as well at how things are proceeding."
"Luna?" Padma asked tentatively, since Luna's words sparked a question that was bothering both her and Hermione.
Hmmm?" Luna responded, with most of her attention on the spell on her hands.
"Luna, you've mentioned your father several times, and it sounds like he knows and approves of you being a pet. There isn't a family I know of that would be pleased with something like that..." Padma's voice trailed off as she tried to make her worries understood.
"Why would Daddy be upset that I have such good friends now, Padma?" Luna asked as if she did not understand the problem."
"Friends, I understand, Luna; it's being a pet, I don't understand," Padma tried to explain.
"It took my being a pet to get those friends, Padma," Luna answered.
"And now that you have friends, why don't you want to be your own person again instead of Harry's pet? You don't think we'll abandon you now if you aren't Harry's pet any longer do you?"
"Sometimes I do, Padma," Luna replied softly, and Padma had to bite back a groan as the spell Luna was using slipped. "I mean I know in my head, it won't ever be like it was, but I... I can't really believe it. Now that I have… I couldn't face going back to that way of life, Padma."
"But as a pet you can't have a family, children of your own," Padma said, explaining what bothered her the most, since to not have her own family would be hell to Padma.
"That assumes I could have a loving family, Padma," Luna said as she tried to re-assert her magic over Padma's pain. "As a pet I'm protected from being forced into a contracted marriage and, while Daddy would never do that, Daddy is not the head of his house and he owes allegiance to another. I know there has been talk of forcing me into a contract with Rolf Scamander, even though Rolf is considerably older than I am. Daddy has managed to stave off any serious contract talks, but he knows he can't protect me forever. As Harry's pet, I'm no longer under Daddy's and, more importantly, the family's sphere of influence."
"Uhhhmmm," Padma gurgled as Luna's magic again won the war over the pain.
"And I already have family as a pet," Luna continued. "I knew when I lost that chess game that I would likely never be able to marry; very few magical families would accept me now that I've been a pet. And Harry's been kinder to me than I had really believed he could be. It seems he doesn't want to play with my body like so many boys would."
Padma nodded and tried to be more than a blissful lump of protoplasm.
"Of course, I do spend a goodly bit of my time as a dog. I still don't believe how very good it feels to have Harry or you brush my fur. And the way it feels when you or Harry scratch my ears or run your fingers along my flank is very addictive."
In the back of her mind, Padma made a note to discuss what she had just found out with Hermione and, possibly, Harry. Luna's deep seated fear of things going back to the way they were should just take some time to work through. The fact that part of the reason Luna had wanted to become a pet was to escape the possibility of being forced into an unpleasant contracted marriage, however, added a serious wrinkle to the long term plans Luna's friends were making in the hopes she would be willing to be her own person again. That Luna really enjoyed the time she spent as a dog was not a surprise, but that she was enjoying the tactile sensations in her dog form as much as she had just admitted, however, was raising a couple of warning flags in Padma's mind.
In the meantime, however, Padma gurgled and cooed contentedly while her new best and most wonderful friend in the whole world turned an eternity of pain into an hour that was not just pain free, but was bordering on sinfully pleasurable. If Luna would be willing to market this amazing spell, she would be declared the second coming of both Morgana and Maeve by the witches of the world. And in the hour Luna spent making sure her spell was firmly set on her, now no longer suffering, pack mate, Luna rambled on about whatever thoughts came to her, which in turn gave Padma a much deeper understanding of the remarkable girl.
– – (()) – –
"Thank you for coming so promptly, Mr. Potter." Addison welcomed the small group of people to his office. "I must admit I didn't expect you to bring quite so many to this meeting, however."
"Sir," Harry responded before explaining the small crowd of friends that had followed him to this meeting. "Hermione is expects that you're going to let me know if I made it into Arithmancy or Ancient Runes, and couldn't be convinced that I'd tell her as soon as I knew; Padma and Parvati came with me in case there has been any unforeseen something that might affect either my staying with them over the break, or the ritual their father wants to perform shortly; Lassie is always by my side if she can help it, although we're trying to restrict some of her time in her dog form and I've asked if she'll remain human for the train trip to London; and Ron and I were talking about Quidditch, and I'm not sure he even realized where I was headed."
"Too right, Harry!" Ron exclaimed in some embarrassment. "You could've warned me."
"Honestly, Ron," Hermione huffed, at her much improved friend. "Harry did warn you, but you were too busy trying to grab that last bit of breakfast to pay attention." Much improved did not mean totally improved in Ron's case.
"Well, in order to satisfy Miss Granger's curiosity, I can re-arrange my agenda, this time," Addison said with slight smile, which then dropped from his face as he continued. "But, next time, please do not bring so many to any meetings I request."
"Yes, Sir," all of the assembled students echoed.
"Very well, you and Lassie both made it into both Arithmancy and Runes, Mr. Potter, but you only just barely made it into Arithmancy. You'll need to work very hard next term to continue catching up in that subject. Fortunately Lassie cruised into both of the classes with very acceptable scores, even though she didn't need to take the exams at all."
"Good for you, Lassie," Harry said praising the girl standing beside him, which calmed Addison's worries about Harry not wanting his pet to do better than he had. Meanwhile both Hermione and Padma smiled in congratulations at Harry.
"Since Miss Padma Patil is also in both of those classes, you can get your break assignments from her." Addison returned the attention of the students to himself. "Now, if Mr. Weasley and Miss Granger would kindly exit my office as they are not required for the next part of my meeting with Mr. Potter..."
After Ron and Hermione were safely on the other side of a closed door, Addison addressed the remaining students. "Miss Parvati Patil, Miss Padma Patil, please convey my gracious thanks to your family in offering to assist in Mr. Potter's healing by both offering your home for the break and for offering to lead Mr. Potter through a ritual. Now, for the rest of my meeting, I would like to speak with Mr. Potter and his pet. While we'll be discussing some long term ramifications, there will be nothing that is going to affect his being in India this winter break."
"Sir," both Parvati and Padma echoed as they gave a shallow bow and then left the office as well.
"Pleased be seated, Mr. Potter, Lassie," Addison said to his remaining student and his pet.
"Long term ramifications, Sir?" Harry asked as he and Luna took two chairs.
"Yes, Mr. Potter," Addison answered. "In the last week while you were dealing with getting used to a new wand, completing your end of term exams, and taking your extra placement exams, a few things have come to light."
"What things, Sir?" Harry asked when Addison paused.
I have received the first report from the Unspeakables about the soul fragment which had been removed from your scar. Using a little known ritual based on 'The Principle of Contagion', that is, 'Once together, always together', the Unspeakables have determined that your scar was not the only soul fragment Mr. Riddle created. There's some belief that using the fragment removed from your scar, the Unspeakables, with the help of some Hit Wizards, will be able to neutralize Mr. Riddle for at least some years."
"That's good news, Sir," Harry said with some relief.
"It is very good news, Mr. Potter. Also, the Unspeakables confirming that Mr. Riddle has returned has finished the downfall of Minster Fudge. It is not yet official, but there will be a new Minister when you return to Britain after your break. That in turn leads to the next bit of news I have for you."
"If Fudge is almost out of the picture, does the next bit of news deal with Sirius?" a hopeful Harry asked.
"Yes, Mr. Potter," Addison answered. "My next news does indeed deal with your Godfather. Madam Bones has reviewed all of the information and evidence you provided and has been convinced of your Godfather's innocence, and, while there are legal hoops that still need to jumped through, I believe that your Godfather will no longer be a wanted man by the start of next term."
"Is there anything I can do to help move this along, Headmaster?" Harry asked, still in a very hopeful voice.
"If you could contact your Godfather in some manner and have him in turn contact Amelia Bones at the DMLE, Mr. Potter," Addison answered. "I suspect there will be some need for mutual assurances between your Godfather and Madam Bones before they are actually willing to meet, but we can leave those arrangements to them."
"Will Sirius be taking over Harry's guardianship, Sir?" Luna asked.
"That is very doubtful, at least in the short term, Lassie," Addison answered, and continued before Harry could protest. "There are several cases on the law books where guardianship cannot be given to anyone that has been subjected to long term exposure of a Dementor's unpleasant aura. Mr. Black will need to be given a clean bill of health from the healers after he has been cleared of all criminal charges, before the subject can be even considered."
Luna turned to her master with a bright smile."Still, that is good news, Harry."
"Yes, it is good news, Lassie," Harry smiled back at the ray of sunshine on his left.
"Now there is one more bit of news, and, unfortunately, it is not as pleasant as the last item," Addison said somberly.
"What is it, Sir?" Harry asked.
"Mr. Dumbledore is trying to make several objections to you spending time away from your aunt's residence if you do not remain at Hogwarts, and he is pursuing these objections even though he has no legal authority to do so."
"Can he make trouble for Harry, Sir?" Luna asked after a second pause to see if Harry wanted to voice the question.
"I am quite sure that he is going to try, Lassie," Addison answered.
"How do you know, Sir?" Harry asked. "You've said Dumbledore has been frozen out of using the Wizengamot regarding my placement."
"I know because Mr. Dumbledore contacted Miss Granger's parents to let them know that he intended to pick Harry up from their house in two days time," Addison responded
"Huh?" both Harry and Luna managed to say.
"It seems Mr. Dumbledore has convinced himself that Mr. Potter will be staying with Miss Granger," Addison explained. "However, I am very pleased to report that Miss Granger has kept her parents very much 'in the loop', as they expressed themselves. Mr. and Mrs. Granger have contacted me and have also tried to string Mr. Dumbledore along, saying they wanted confirmation from Miss Granger before they would agree to him taking you, Mr. Potter. I believe he will be showing up at the Granger residence early the day after tomorrow with some Aurors that are more loyal to him than to the law in an attempt to force the issue."
"Hermione and her parents...?" Harry started to panic before Addison cut across Harry's concerns.
"Calm yourself, Mr. Potter. None of the Granger family will be there, although there will be some more dependable Aurors polyjuiced to look like you and the Grangers in the house. Should Mr. Dumbledore arrive, as we expect he will, he, and his force of Aurors, will be facing attempted kidnapping charges, and with Mr. Fudge no longer a power Mr. Dumbledore can use to get out of trouble, we believe Mr. Dumbledore will actually be required to attend a trial to answer to those charges. If such a trial does occur, I will be attending any trial as your guardian, and your presence will not be required."
"And the Grangers, Headmaster, they will be okay?" Luna asked while Harry tried work through the ramifications of what he had been told.
"They will be in India with you, Lassie," Addison answered. "After I was contacted by the Grangers, I contacted Mr. Patil in case he had also been contacted by Mr. Dumbledore. I had a short meeting with the Patils, the Grangers, and Madam Bones yesterday, and Mr. Patil has offered to let the Granger family stay with them as well. It seems Mr. Patil does not like Mr. Dumbledore and is actually quite pleased to be able to offer Mr. Dumbledore an ill turn."
"You didn't tell Hermione, Padma or Parvati, Headmaster?" Harry asked, knowing he would be upset if his plans had been overridden in this manner.
"I will leave that to their parents, Mr. Potter. After all, they should know how to break the news to their daughters better than I would," Addison answered.
"Excuse me, Headmaster?" Harry offered tentatively.
"Yes, Mr. Potter?" Addison asked, while wondering what his student was thinking to bring about such an unsure response.
"I understand that you, as my guardian, need to attend such a trial. But, if Dumbledore is brought to trial after we're back from India, I would like the opportunity to attend the trial."
"Why, Mr. Potter?" Addison asked baldly, hoping to surprise some additional information from Harry.
"In part, as some kind of closure, Sir," Harry responded. "Lassie and I have spent a lot of time talking about what should've happened after my parents' deaths. I'd like to see the man responsible face at least some consequences for his actions."
Addison took a moment to think about what he knew about the expected trial before he answered.
"I will take it under advisement, Mr. Potter," Addison allowed. "I admit that I am hoping the trial will occur while you are still in India. If the trial is delayed until after the term starts, it will depend somewhat on the information that is uncovered during the pre-trial interviews as well as how you are doing under your new workload."
"Understood, Sir." Harry sighed, thankful that Headmaster Greengrass hadn't ripped into him for the request.
"Now, you and Lassie need to head down to catch the Express, Mr. Potter."
"Sir," both Harry and Luna echoed and they left the room to run down to the train.
– – (()) – –
Harry, Luna, Hermione, Parvati, and Padma had snagged a single compartment, near the front of the train for a change. Ron and Lavender had been by, as well as several of the members of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Having the team drop by to complain that Harry had been removed from the team turned out to be a fortunate thing as Draco had shown up at the same time with the intention of cursing Harry.
Every since Addison had taken over as Headmaster, the Slytherins in general and Draco's clique in particular had been kept on a very short leash. Draco was not used to being held responsible for his actions and his frustration at not being able to lord it over those he considered to be lesser students had left him in a vile mood.
But even Draco knew better than to start something when outnumbered by such a large number. As soon as he stalked off, Fred, George and Katie shared a devilish grin and followed the blonde ponce to make sure he didn't get away with anything.
Once the five friends had started to settle in for the trip, Luna had recalled that she knew something that Hermione and Padma did not. Harry smiled as he watched Luna try to, yet again, contain herself. His blonde pet had a secret she wanted to keep but the news was burning a hole in her throat, and since she was to remain human, she couldn't escape into her dog form to keep from blurting the news out.
Hermione, Parvati and Padma put up with the squirming and giggles for about half an hour before they looked at each other and put down their books, or magazine in Parvati's case, and turned their attention to Luna, which just caused the girl to dissolve into more giggles and Harry to sigh.
"What's Lassie trying very hard not to say, Harry?" Parvati asked.
"The Headmaster has shared a bit of information that he felt would be best passed on to you three by your parents," Harry responded, which caused Luna to wiggle before burying her head into Harry's shoulder and laughing. "But Lassie has no experience in hiding things from friends and, since she feels the news is good, she's suffering from a complete lack of decorum. If we hadn't requested that she spend more time with only two legs, I suspect she'd be bouncing between your laps."
"Then it's a good thing we asked she remain human," Padma smirked. "While I'm really fond of Lassie's four footed affection, she's too big to be considered a lap dog."
"You'll need to get used to it for the next month or so, Padma," Hermione spoke up, "since she'll be seeking your lap while mine isn't available."
This was the wrong thing for Hermione to say, and Luna could not contain herself and started laughing even harder.
"I never have figured out how she managed to convince you to let her climb on to your lap so often, Hermione," Harry said, while trying to deflect the conversation a bit. As he expected, Hermione ignored his attempt.
"Give, Harry!" Hermione demanded in her best no nonsense tone of voice.
Harry ignored the order, and Parvati calmly placed her hand on Harry's leg just above the knee before smirking at Hermione, "It looks like having Lassie ignore all of Harry's orders has taught Harry how to ignore Hermione's orders, sister, so I think we will need to deal with this ourselves."
"Huh, now wait a minute," Harry started to say.
Padma ignored Harry and nodded to her sister and twin with a smile, as she reached across the aisle to put one of her hands on Harry's other knee.
"What?" Hermione asked, before the normally reserved and refined Padma Patil launched herself at Harry to start tickling the boy from one side, while Parvati attacked Harry's other side with additional tickles. When Luna tried to intervene on Harry's behalf, Hermione also found herself caught up in the all out tickle war when she blindsided the blonde with some tickles of her own.
The ensuing battle of laughs ranged from one side of the compartment to the other. A true melee or free-for-all, no true teams formed. When Harry managed to land a few tickles on Parvati, Padma switched targets and attacked Hermione as Luna attacked Harry, who then attacked Padma while she attacked Luna as Hermione and Parvati attacked each other.
Somehow during the battle royal Padma found herself on the floor with Harry half on top of her and with Harry's hands accidentally in inappropriate places. For just a moment, the two of them stared at each other before Padma gave in to an impulse and gave Harry a quick peck on his lips before applying her fingers to Harry's short ribs, With Harry's attention so distracted by the peck and feel of her softness under his hands, the attack to his sensitive sides proved devastating.
Cessation of hostilities did not happen until all of the teens were breathless from laughing too hard. As the five friends untangled, robes were straightened with some blushes, and Luna sighed in contentment as she cuddled up against Hermione, one of her pack-mates. Parvati now sat on Hermione's other side while Padma and Harry settled in across from them.
"I've never had a chance to have a tickle war before," Luna announced to the compartment. "I really hope we're able to do this again sometime."
"We're supposed to be too old for such a thing, Lassie," Padma said as she took a chance and actually snuggled into Harry's side. Padma smiled and blushed just a bit when Harry draped an arm over her shoulder and held her against him.
"We are supposed to be too old for lots of things, sister," Parvati responded, smiling at the sight of her sister and Harry. "But I don't really care, I don't get near enough time to interact with you during the school year, and for a change, we could attack someone else instead of each other."
"Although you did get to attack each other as well, if I recall correctly," Hermione added as she draped an arm around each of the girls beside her. "I haven't been a part of a tickle war either, Lassie, and I enjoyed it as well."
"Now, what do you want to tell us, Lassie?" Parvati asked, somewhat shocked that Hermione was hugging her and Luna.
"I'm really supposed to let your parents tell you," Luna complained.
"And I DO NOT want to have to explain to our Headmaster about why we couldn't keep a secret," Harry suddenly interjected. "It would be just like the man to use this as a small kind of test, and since he's been more than fair towards Lassie and me, I don't want to mess up if I can help it."
That caused the girls in the compartment to pause and reflect, before Hermione added her own opinion. "You're right, Harry, that is something he'd set up. I swear he's always testing and probing me when I'm in his presence."
"He is much like our father in that regard," Parvati volunteered. "I believe it's a part of the traditional pure-blood way of raising children just like themselves."
"Is that why you always seem so calm in the Headmaster's presence, Padma?" Harry asked the girl he was still holding against his side.
"Yes, that's the reason, Harry. Parv and I were always being tested in the same manner before we started attending Hogwarts."
"Since we started going to Hogwarts, our honored Father has cut down on the tests while we're at home," Parvati added. "Pad and I think that he's missed us enough that he wants a chance to re-connect with us before the testing starts."
"Generally it isn't until half-way through the summer break before he starts probing what we've learned during the previous year," Padma finished.
"So your secret is safe, Lassie," Hermione decided. "I'm also not sure I want to disappoint our new Headmaster; he's won me over with his even handed treatment of the troublemakers in Slytherin."
"And Ravenclaw," Padma added. "Professor Flitwick has been given a free hand to take care of the bullies in my house. A little late to help Luna, but many in my house now need to watch what they say or do."
"Good!" Harry exclaimed with a viciousness seldom seen from him.
– – (()) – –
Harry exchanged a smirk with each of the girls as they stepped off of the Hogwarts Express to find Addison at the station together with some additional people.
"Daddy!" Luna exclaimed in surprise and, forgetting her instructions to remain human, a collie bounded away from Harry and up to a man with cotton candy hair who was wearing garish robes.
"Mum, Dad," Hermione also exclaimed in some surprise as her Muggle parents could not cross over to this side of platform nine and three quarters without help.
"Don't head out without letting me introduce you to them properly this time, Harry," Hermione called over her shoulder as she also dropped her normal reserve and ran over to her parents.
"So you were able to keep a secret, Mr. Potter?" Addison exclaimed in surprise. "I did not think both you and your pet could do it."
"Well, it helped when I mentioned that I felt you would test me like that just to see if I could keep a secret. We all agreed it sounded like a test, and we were able to get through the rest of the trip without mishap," Harry replied, with a bit of pride in his ability at guessing it was a test and passing it.
"Well done, Mr. Potter." Addison praised the young man. "It would have been better if you had not needed to pass it off as the test it was, but being able to keep the secret is still better than divulging the information."
"HARRY!" Hermione announced her return with a screech and nearly tackled Harry in her exuberance. "Harry, we're going to get to go with you to India! Is that the secret?"
"Yes, Hermione, that's the secret," Harry managed to get out, while trying to maintain his balance. "I told you Lassie felt it was a good thing. And remember how Lassie reacted about your comment about Padma needing to provide a lap while you weren't around?"
Hermione nodded before visibly composing herself to face her Headmaster. "Sir, I'm very grateful for your help in keeping my parents and me from being torn apart by our previous headmaster."
Addison raised an eyebrow in pleased surprise before he answered. "Miss Granger, your own actions made it very easy to help out. Since you have been very open with your parents, when something unexpected happened, they felt it worthwhile to contact me. If you had not been keeping them fully updated, things might have been different."
"Still, sir, you've done my family an unexpected service. Thank you."
"Miss Granger, I have not helped that much," Addison disavowed. "But you are welcome for the small things I have completed on your family's behalf."
Hermione nodded, and turned back to Harry.
"Harry, have you met the Patils yet?"
"No, Hermione," Harry answered. "I'd only just finished talking to our Headmaster when you announced your pleasure at your unexpected trip."
"I believe they are still greeting each other and haven't passed along the information about the additional guests," Addison said, while looking over to where the Patils were congregating.
"Then come meet my parents properly, Harry," Hermione said as she took Harry's hand and pulled him towards her parents who had watched the previous exchanges with smiles on their faces.
– – (()) – –
"And you're sure I don't need to be concerned?" Evan Granger asked Parvati as he, Robyn, Ganaraj, Rujula and Parvati watched the four teens playing some kind of game that resembled Keep-A-Way on steroids. Whoever was 'It' needed to dodge incoming spells while trying to tag one of the other players.
"Very sure, Mr. Granger," Parvati answered. "As far as Harry and Hermione are concerned, they're siblings. When Hermione starts dating someone, if that someone is magical, Harry may be giving him a talking to, just like you will."
"And Miss Lovegood?" Ganaraj Patil asked.
"We're all worried about Luna, Father," Parvati answered. "According to Padma, Luna has no ambitions to be anything other than Harry's pet dog." Parvati paused a moment while focusing on the collie that was currently running interference for Hermione. "She's started treating us like we are a part of her pack, with Harry and Padma as the alphas. We currently think that because she's spent so much time as a dog, she's starting to lose her humanity. It seems there really are good reasons not to learn how to be an Animagus until you're older."
"Is that why you all are trying to limit her time as a dog, daughter?" Rujula asked. "I was surprised when I heard young Harry being quite stern with her."
"Yes, Mother," Parvati again answered, while thinking that tomorrow she would see if she could join in for the training sessions.
"And you said Padma and Harry haven't starting dating?" Ganaraj interjected. "They look very close to me."
"I think they are about to start, Father, but they haven't actually started yet." That decided matters for Parvati; she would be joining the four tomorrow, so she would not be the one that had to answer prying questions.
"I know someone that might be able to help with Luna," Robyn said in the silence. "She has a granddaughter that is a witch, so she knows about magic. I contacted her after Hermione came clean about some of the things that have been going on at that school. I thought Hermione might need some counseling. Now I think Luna needs it more."
"That's a good idea, dear," Evan said "I'll contact her this evening, to try to set up an appointment for as soon as we plan to return to England. Or I will if Parvati doesn't think Harry would object..."
"Harry's just as worried as the rest of us, Sir," Parvati said, while perking up. Something good might come from this question and answer session by the parents after all.
"Father?" Parvati asked quietly.
"Yes, daughter?" Ganaraj responded.
"I know we are all very curious; did Mr. Dumbledore visit Hermione's home as you expected him to? We were all tied up with the Agnihotra the day the Headmaster expected Mr. Dumbledore to act."
"He did, Parvati," Ganaraj said with an evil smile. "According to your Headmaster, Mr. Dumbledore showed up with two people who were dressed as Aurors. I've been told he was quite shocked to discover that the people in the Granger's house were true Aurors. Madam Bones has proven quite knowledgeable about the laws and has managed to get Mr. Dumbledore removed as the Chief Warlock pending his trial."
"Harry's hoping that any trial doesn't happen until we have returned to England, Father," Parvati told the adults.
"I'm afraid the trial is planned for a time before we get back, daughter. Both sides of the trial are pushing for an early date: Mr. Dumbledore, as he feels he will win and would like to get his office of Chief Warlock back, and Madam Bones, as she would like Mr. Dumbledore permanently removed from all of his offices as she is likewise confident of success."
"I'll tell Harry, Father..." Parvati started to say.
"No, daughter, please don't tell him," Ganaraj interrupted Parvati. "We'll tell him this evening at dinner, so you won't need to keep quiet for long, but we want to be the ones that let him know."
"Yes, Father," Parvati agreed, bowing her head.
"Now, Parvati, I would like to hear your opinion of your new Headmaster," Ganaraj said, changing the subject.
"I'm very comfortable with our new Headmaster, Father," Parvati answered quietly. "I've not had much need to be in his presence, so I've very little personal experience. However, Padma and Harry are both very pleased with him. Padma may be approaching you about no longer needing our minders, and Harry feels the Headmaster has been very fair with him. Harry is especially pleased that the Headmaster doesn't seem to be keeping any secrets from Harry that Harry should know about."
Ganaraj nodded his head and smiled.
"I know we've had even less contact than Parvati," Robyn added. "But Hermione is also pleased with the changes he's made, and with how he's interacting with the school and Harry. And Evan and I are very pleased with how he convinced Hermione to be more open with us about some of the things that have happened in the past."
Ganaraj nodded again, this time towards Evan and Robyn.
"The children are wrapping up this session," Rujula interjected. "Parvati, you said they do this twice a day?"
"They try to have at least one such session every day, Mother," Parvati answered. "And they try to have two such during the weekend. And they have different games they play. If they go out again this afternoon, it will be a very different kind of workout than this one."
"Games?" Evan asked.
"They're keeping some kind of score, Sir," Parvati said. "But in reality they're training Harry and each other."
Evan nodded and turned away from the balcony towards the main part of the mansion. "I need to think on this for a while longer."
– – (()) – –
The Patil estate was nestled into the foothills of the Western Ghats in the Waylanad district of the India state of Kerala. According to Ganaraj, this area of India was very sparsely populated, making it perfect for several magical families to build their homes there; having things like portkeys and being able to apparate made otherwise inaccessible locations ideal for the secretive magical community. Harry was even allowed to fly his broom some, although the forest prevented him from flying as fast as he would like.
Today, however, did not find him on his broom. He and Padma had finally managed to slip away from the crowd of family and friends to walk some of the trails surrounding the estate and not more than five minutes into their walk, their hands had somehow managed to become clasped together. When, after a short time, Harry did not let go of her hand, Padma smiled and sighed in relief.
"That was a pretty heavy sigh, Padma," Harry remarked after waiting a few seconds to see if Padma would say anything.
"You didn't let go, Harry, that pleases me," Padma replied.
"I don't want to let go, Padma," Harry admitted after few moments, then he blushed and pushed on. "I'd like to do more than just hold hands..."
"You would?" Padma asked, blushing to match Harry's crimson, although it was not as noticeable on her darker skin.
"I would... as long as you don't mind," Harry confirmed, feeling a bit more confident since Padma had not removed her hand from his, even after his admission.
"I... I think I'd like that, Harry," Padma managed to stammer as some of her dreams started to come true.
"You do?" Harry asked. "You think you'd like to do more than hold hands?"
"With you, Harry, yes, I'd like more," Padma said, her own confidence growing as well. "Holding hands is nice, but I'd like some hugs, and some dates while progressing towards foot rubs, back rubs and the all important kisses."
"And some dates? And kisses?" Harry seemed dumbfounded, which restored Padma's good humor.
"Harry, I've no idea how you could spend over four years at a mixed gender boarding school and still have no idea how boys and girls interact when they start to be more than just friends," Padma said in an exasperated voice, although her grin eased the sting of her words.
"That always happened to someone else and not to me," Harry offered in explanation. Then, taking Padma at her word, Harry moved a bit closer, and after relinquishing his hold on her hand, he slipped his arm around Padma's waist.
"So will I get some dates?" Padma asked, although she felt sure of the answer.
"Yeah, dates and hugs; then maybe, if I get good at the dates and hugs, some kisses."
"And the foot rubs?" Padma pressed as her own arm slipped under Harry's and then around his waist.
"Hmmm, I think I'll stick with the back rubs and let Luna give you the foot rubs," Harry half teased.
"Not Lassie?" Padma acknowledged the more serious turn in their discussion.
"I was told it might help her lose some of her dogginess," Harry explained.
"Is that even a word, Harry?"
"I don't know, but you understood what I meant, didn't you?"
"Well, yes, I guess I did," Padma allowed. "I feel so guilty about her. She has so much she could offer, but the bullies in Ravenclaw have won. They've beaten her into being happy at being nothing more than your pet."
"And I just allowed it to happen as well," Harry added. "I felt so fortunate that someone wanted to be with me that much, someone that trusted me enough to actually put her body and life in my hands. The headmaster tried to warn us, but we didn't understand his ways of teaching and warning us back then."
"Uh-huh," Padma agreed.
"So you're willing to date me even with Luna as our pet?" Harry finally asked, after several moments of silence.
"I think so," Padma said hesitantly, after taking another moment to reflect. "She is our pet now. Ever since you asked her to sleep in her human form sometimes, she's been sleeping with Parvati, Hermione, and me."
"Speaking of our pet, here she comes, and she's running all out." Harry pointed toward the running collie coming their way.
By common consent they both stopped to wait while still holding each other.
"She's so beautiful when she's running like that," Padma remarked. "So many Animagi that I've met don't learn to merge with their forms like Luna has."
"You know some other Animagi?" Harry asked.
"Some, but that knowledge won't be a help here," Padma replied.
"Harry, Padma!" Luna exclaimed as she switched to her two legged form. "You're both wanted back in the big house. The Headmaster just arrived with some news."
"The Headmaster?" Harry asked, but before Luna could confirm it, he slapped his hand against his, now scar free, forehead. "That's right, Dumbledore's trial was to be yesterday!"
"Then it's time to head back," Padma said as they turned and took a branch in the trail that would lead more directly to the house.
"Were you asked to hurry us home, Luna, or may we just walk?" Padma asked.
"I believe they'd like you back sooner rather than later, Padma," Luna replied with a smile as she noticed how close her two favorite people were to each other.
"Of course they do," Harry sighed, "Well it's a good thing we've been keeping up on our running."
"And that Luna has learned to run as girl as well," Padma smiled at the blonde girl.
"Humph, you two just don't want me to beat you back," Luna groused.
"That must be it, Luna," Harry answered, "It can't have anything to do with how worried we are about you."
Luna looked down and blushed. "You don't need to be worried about me, Harry. I'm happy as your pet dog."
"We'd both be happier if you were happy to our pet girl, Luna," Padma said as she and Harry released their mutual holds and started trotting to warm up their leg muscles.
"OUR Pet Girl!?" Luna repeated, amazed at what she had just heard.
Harry confirmed she had heard him correctly. "Yes, ours, and, although we know you're happy being a dog, we'd both really like you to be willing to be your own person again."
"YES!" Luna shouted, ignoring the comment about becoming her own person again. "It's about time you two started dating."
"Less talk and more speed," Padma said, while matching her pace to her words, leaving Harry and Luna behind for a moment until they also picked up their paces and re-formed a line with Harry in the middle between the two girls.
– – (()) – –
"Headmaster!?" Harry exclaimed in concern when he, Luna and Padma found the adults. Addison appeared to be wrapped in several bandages, and seemed quite pale to Harry's eyes.
"Students," Addison answered.
"Sirs, Madams," Harry said, also acknowledging the other adults in the room as he noticed with some concern that Hermione was looking miserable and was cuddled against her father.
Padma left Harry's side to sit next to Parvati and her parents, although she paused to touch Hermione in support on her way across the room.
"What happened?" Harry asked as he and Luna took the remaining seats that were facing Addison.
"Voldemort attacked during Dumbledore's trial," Addison answered. "I am pleased to say the attack failed, but there were several injuries and deaths as a result of the attack."
"Who? Who died?" Harry asked after a moment of shocked silence.
"Of the people I am sure you know there were only two deaths, although nearly everyone in the courtroom at the time were hurt to varying degrees," Addison said with a sigh. "Mrs. Weasley died during the battle, although she did manage to take down Bellatrix Lestrange just before she was killed."
The news about Molly's death hit Harry like a kick in the stomach, which left Luna to ask about the other death.
"And the other person that we knew who died, Headmaster?"
"Mr. Dumbledore died of his wounds early this morning," Addison said without the normal animation in his voice. "Your father is still in St. Mungo's, Lassie, but he is expected to recover fully."
Luna choked out a half-sob and turned in her chair in order to bury her head into Harry's shoulder to cry softy.
"You said the attack failed?" Evan asked from where he sat with a grieving Hermione.
"Yes, in spite of how it looks, Voldemort's attack failed. Not only did he lose nearly all of his attacking force, Mr. Dumbledore managed to pin him in such a manner that allowed his capture. Madam Bones had the presence of mind to declare martial law, and ordered Voldemort though the death veil that same day."
"Death hasn't stopped him before," Harry sad bitterly.
"Even if there is a way for him to regain his body, he will not be able to interfere for some time." Addison answered Harry's compliant with a calm voice. "And, thanks to having that that soul fragment from your scar to study, the Unspeakables believe they will be able to prevent him from regaining a body altogether."
"So He's gone?" Hermione half-sobbed.
"I believe so." Addison soothed Hermione.
"I have to admit I'm surprised the attack failed," Ganaraj said from his position next to his wife. "I didn't believe the Ministry could repel such an attack.
"They had a bit of warning, it seems," Addison confided to the room. "I may never like Mr. Snape due to his lacking of teaching ability, but it seems Mr. Dumbledore was keeping him around as a spy against Voldemort. When Mr. Dumbledore was removed from his position of power, Mr. Snape arranged to contact Madam Bones. While he could not give enough warning to allow the trial to become a trap of only Aurors, he did give enough warning to prevent the trial from becoming a bloodbath of innocent blood."
"So he was always on our side?" Harry asked in amazement.
"So it seems, although Madam Bones had several unpleasant things to say about the freshly dead Mr. Dumbledore. It seems Mr. Snape has passed information about several attacks to Mr. Dumbledore that were ignored. We are guessing he didn't want to compromise Mr. Snape as a spy, but since Dumbledore's dead now, we'll never know for certain.
As a result of the attack, the trial against Mr. Dumbledore is moot, and the results will likely never be published." Addison next summed up the result of the trial. "However, you should know, he was found guilty of the charges and wouldn't have been allowed to regain his position as Chief Warlock.
With the attack, Madam Bones was declared Minister for Magic and she has started cleaning her house so to speak," Addison said, changing towards what he hoped would be a less troubling subject...
"With her decisive action after Voldemort's capture, there weren't any dissenting votes, and most of my contacts within the Wizengamot are very pleased with how Madam Bones is starting her term of office." Addison continued his line of thought in order to let his students absorb the information he had presented.
"I'm now grateful that we weren't at the trial, Harry," Luna said as she surfaced from his shoulder. "If you'd been there, you know we would've been targeted as well."
Harry grimaced, but, after a moment, he nodded in agreement. "We've been training pretty hard, but we haven't practiced amongst a crowd at all. We'd have been useless, or, worse, in the way."
"I'm pleased you can see that, Harry." Evan spoke up for the first time. "Now, Headmaster, does this attack change anything for the upcoming school term?"
"For the short term, not at all," Addison answered. "We'll finally be back up to full strength after the new Deputy the board hired starts next week."
"Is it anyone we might know?" Harry asked for Hermione as she perked up for the first time during the conversation.
"Well, you've all met her this term," Addison answered. "Mrs. Hawks has been hired to be the new Deputy. It seems she was very impressed by the number of our students that could feel the magic she used during Harry's ritual, and she's convinced some of her fellow witchdoctors that it would be worthwhile to investigate."
"I predict a short time where all of us will have trouble understanding what our new Deputy is saying," Parvati joked, which caused all of the students to crack a smile.
"Now, Mr. Potter," Addison said. "You'll have the honor of introducing Mrs. Hawks to Diagon Alley when you get back to England. I'm going to ask her to escort you escort you to Ollivander's to see if you need another new wand."
"Yes, Sir," Harry answered the unvoiced question. "I'm willing to do that, although my new Mahogany and Hippogriff tail hair has continued to work well for me after I went through the Agnihotra."
"That is good news, Mr. Potter," Addison seemed to relax for the first time since Harry had entered the room. "The Unspeakables will be happy to hear that. They've requested a meeting with you sometime shortly after school has resumed."
"How long can you stay, Headmaster Greengrass?" Ganaraj asked as the adults left the room.
The teens also stood to leave, heading by common consent towards a covered patio where they could gather: Harry and Hermione to mourn Mrs. Weasley; Luna to worry about her dad; and Parvati and Padma to offer whatever support they could to their friends.
– – (()) – –
"I feel I owe you a debt for your care this holiday," Harry said to the Patils, in as formal a manner as he could. "Thank you for opening your home to a stranger, and also helping me through the Agnihotra."
"We were most pleased you could join us, Mr. Potter," Ganaraj replied, also in a formal manner. "You do not need to concern yourself with any debt, just take care to not hurt my daughter."
"He won't, Father," Padma said from Harry's side. "I'm not going to let him, and I plan to try and keep him from doing anything stupid as well."
"Good luck with that, Padma," Hermione interjected as she joined the group having just finished saying her own goodbyes to her parents.
Hermione then addressed Ganaraj and Rujula. "I know my parents have expressed their thanks, but I really want to add my own thanks as well. I had a marvelous time."
"You and your family proved to be very easy to entertain, Miss Granger," Rujula said from her husband's side. "And we were pleased at how willing you were to follow our own family traditions during the holiday."
"Harry!" Luna interjected, while looking towards the entrance to platform nine and three quarters. "I hear spell fire. Something is happening."
"Rujula, contact the DMLE, you kid..." Whatever Ganaraj planned to say would remain unvoiced. The teens were already moving, with a collie in the lead followed by Harry, then Padma and Hermione and Parvati bringing up the rear.
"Go, Rujula!" Ganaraj commanded as he followed the teens through the fake wall.
– – (()) – –
Coming through the barrier, Harry found a combination of chaos and what he would always consider Hell. Students and adults were all running, screaming or both, while the smoke from places where spells had hit created a dark and hazy atmosphere.
Stationed about throughout the platform, people wearing dark cloaks and white masks were casting spells at the panicked crowd, while laughing and taunting their targets.
Following Luna's lead, Harry dodged to the left as he aimed a spell toward the closest masked tormentor, bringing the man's casting to a surprised halt as his wand and half of his casting arm were separated from the rest of him. Padma's specialized stunner hit the man before he could cry out, leaving one less attacker.
Harry heard a cutter's incantation from Hermione from behind him and slightly to his right, followed by another of the Patil family's stunners from Parvati who was following Hermione, those two spells aimed towards a masked wizard to Harry's right.
"He's down," Parvati said as the team dodged again in response an erratic course change by the leading collie.
"Ware from ten o'clock," Hermione said as she cast a shield over the group.
"I see 'em," the three other members of the team all said in chorus, Harry and Padma aiming curses at the attacker, while Parvati intentionally looked in the other direction to make sure nothing surprised the team from behind.
The formation and responses had been drilled into the teens by Evan and Ganaraj during the last several days of their stay in India after Harry had expressed his concern that all the training they had done would not work amongst a crowd. Evan and Ganaraj had worked the four teens hard, pushing them harder than they had pushed themselves, even using some of the Patil's family retainers and neighbors as both bystanders and attackers during the training.
Another jog by Luna helped several spells aimed at the team miss to the left as the collie used her heightened hearing and sense of smell to weave towards an attacker, yet making the team harder to hit.
Moving with the collie, Harry and Padma attacked the different cloaked wizards with combinations that left them maimed and unconscious. Hermione moved from side to side of the formation, always facing the direction from which they just dodged, while shielding the team. Parvati acted as a rearguard and made sure any they didn't miss anyone.
Following this formation, Ganaraj spent a split moment admiring the teamwork being displayed, even as he sealed the injuries caused by Harry's spells, preventing the men from bleeding out.
As Harry watched, a cloaked attacker was struck down by a spell that came from the train.
"Some of the sixth and seventh years have set up some kind of defensive formation just ahead and to the left of us," Hermione said, after dodging to the right.
"And someone has started using the train windows as cover and is attacking from there as well," Padma added.
"Ware...Hermione LEFT NOW!" Parvati nearly shouted as she dodged to the left herself while dropping to a prone position.
Hermione, responding to the urgency in Parvati's voice, did not hesitate but also jumped to the left as she also dropped to ground.
A split moment later, a part of the roof fell where Hermione had been standing, effectively separating the team into two different groups.
Luna turned suddenly and ran towards the two girls on the ground, jumping over the wreckage, even as she started to change back into a human.
She was only half-way through her change when she intercepted a spell aimed at Hermione, as Parvati cast a blasting curse at the white masked wizard that had appeared from the smoke.
The sounds of Apparition could be heard as Aurors started to appear throughout the platform. Ignoring the sounds of the cleanup that was starting, Harry and Padma ran towards their downed team member while Hermione and Parvati started casting some general healing spells at the half-girl/half-dog.
– – (()) – –
It had been four years since that fateful day when the last of the Death Eaters had staged an attack on the Hogwarts Express platform. It had turned into a suicide attack for the Death Eaters, as not even one had escaped the carnage. All of the Death Eaters had been killed or captured, and then sentenced to the Veil.
An even greater number of students had suffered that day; half of that year's first years were killed outright, with a total of fifty students killed and another thirty hurt badly enough that they had not been able to continue with their education that year, and a large number of the surviving students where now orphans.
All of the hurt students had been able to return the following year, except for one; one who would never again be able to take a class at Hogwarts, although she shadowed her alphas throughout the rest of their education.
– – (()) – –
"Welcome home, Mrs. Potter," Harry smiled as he and Padma entered the mansion they had purchased after graduating from Hogwarts.
Harry and Padma had been married two months ago when they decided it was time and that they were ready. After a month long honeymoon in the Southern US with some of Mrs. Hawks' friends and students, the newlywed couple left for India to celebrate Parvati's wedding to a young Indian wizard. Now, they were home.
A familiar, long and pointed, nose peeked around the doorway from the room the inhabitants of the house called the changing room. Following the nose, a red-gold collie with grey eyes gave a 'Wurf' in greeting and trotted over to her favorite people.
"You're moving so much better, Luna" Padma exclaimed as she knelt to give her friend a hug.
"If leaving for a couple of months sees this much improvement, we need to do it more often," Harry quipped as he also knelt to greet Luna.
To Harry and Padma's surprise and pleasure, the collie gave Harry what could only be considered a dirty look, and deliberately moved away from the young man to continue greeting Padma.
"She understood me!?" Harry exclaimed in shock. "She hasn't understood me in dog form since she was hurt!"
"Our Luna has made some amazing progress since you left," Hermione Granger said from the doorway. "I finally managed to talk the healers into trying the ceremony Mrs. Hawks has been promoting since it was determined that those epileptic seizures Luna has were forcing her to change into a dog."
"How did you manage to talk them into it, Hermione?" Harry asked, as Luna relented a bit and nudged Harry with her head in greeting.
"I stopped talking to those healers and went to a new one. With you gone, I was able to get Luna's case transferred and the ritual done in less than two weeks. She showed signs of improving the very next day, although there have been some side effects."
"Oh?" Padma asked as she greeted Hermione in her accustomed the manner with a kiss on each cheek.
"She's still having the seizures, and they still will forcibly change her into her dog form. Then, for a short time after the seizures, she's very confused and wants to be petted, or held, which is inconvenient at four thirty in the morning." Hermione answered, as Harry gave her a brief and light hug.
"How many seizures a day is she having?" Harry asked.
"Four? You said that with some authority, Hermione." Harry remarked as he felt his hand being licked.
"Four," Hermione repeated. "Four thirty and ten thirty, both AM and PM. I get Luna to change into her fur around four and ten. It seems to lessen the affects of the seizure if she already has four feet."
"Four seizures is down from the six to eight she was having when we left, so I'll take it," Harry decided as the four entered the room and sat in their normal places.
The changing room was blend of a nursery and dog run. The walls were padded, although Luna had stopped running into them some time ago, and there were children's books and toys along with the balls and pull ropes that would entertain a mischievous collie. Harry and Padma noticed there were a few books for more advanced reading in the room now as well, although they were still mostly geared towards children.
There were no chairs, only plush loveseats and couches that showed the wear and tear of furniture frequently use by the collie.
Hermione sat in her loveseat, just large enough for her and Luna, in either two footed or four footed form, to cuddle together, while the couch Harry and Padma preferred was actually large enough for Luna to sit on either side of Harry and Padma. Today though, Luna forced her way between her alphas and curled up to receive attention from both of them.
"How have you been, Hermione?" Harry asked while Padma and Luna seemed to stare into each other's eyes. "I noticed the Prophet started slandering you just as soon as Padma and I left."
"I'm doing well, Harry, better then well, actually," Hermione answered. "The Prophet was sure I'd be heartbroken and in a decline since you married Padma and not me. It doesn't matter a bit that we've all told them, several times, I live here as a friend, and that I'm not sharing your bedchamber."
"Better then well?" Padma asked, with an arched eyebrow.
"Now that you're home I can agree to go to dinner with Charles. He finally worked up the nerve and asked me last week when he heard you would be home soon."
"Charlie?" Harry asked, only to be corrected.
"No, Charles. He's been helping me with the publishing of my books for around a year now; he got promoted to an associate editor about the time you left, and shortly after that he began to show an interest in me. And for a change, he's ignoring what's been written about me."
"So he's not someone we've met?"
"No, Harry, you haven't met him yet, and you won't until I decide if I'm willing to go on more than one date with him."
Padma agreed to the unspoken request. "Okay, Hermione, I'll keep Harry away from your date until he's taken you out at least twice."
"Humph!" Harry groused, "I promised your dad I'd try to scare off any of your suitors."
"And if looks like he's a real suitor, I'll let you," Hermione agreed. "Now tell me about the wedding."
While Padma explained in great detail about the extremely intricate and lengthy protocols that went into the wedding of a well-to-do magical daughter in India, Harry thought back to the time right after the attack on the Hogwarts' express.
Those had been bad days, Luna had been struck by a bright orange spell that should have killed her outright. Many of the healers expressed their surprise her body survived at all, and theorized she survived only because she was in the middle of an Animagus transformation. While her body survived, her mind seemed to have been shattered, and she started having the seizures that changed the girl into a dog.
And amidst the worries about Luna, the rest of the Hogwarts students, and, to some degree, the rest of magical Great Britain had had to deal with the aftershocks. It had seemed like no family had been spared from the Death Eater attack set up in retaliation of Voldemort being forced through the veil.
The only rays of hope Harry had that first week had been the Patils and the Grangers. Then, when it looked like Luna was starting to stabilize, the healers decided that she would never again be smarter than the collie she kept changing into.
In the chaos of that announcement, Harry had been asked to appear at a meeting at the Ministry with the Headmaster, Addison leading Harry down through several levels of the building to a meeting with some Unspeakables.
The Unspeakables had explained that, thanks to a prophecy, Harry was the only one that could sever the connections that tied Voldemort to the world and prevented him from dying a true death.
Several objects had been brought into the room and Harry had been drilled on a very complicated and difficult spell that had needed to be performed. When Padma had later asked about the spell, it had been explained that some of the soul fragments had been hidden, and needed to be destroyed using a combination of the Principle of Sympathy and the Principle of Contagion.
Six times Harry had cast the strange spell, until the only soul fragment left had been the doll with the soul bit that came from his scar that one Harry had destroyed with a simple 'Finite Incantatem'. After the last soul fragment had gone, the Unspeakables had performed some strange ritual and then declared Voldemort was completely and totally dead, instead of just mostly dead.
After graduating, Harry, Hermione and Padma had purchased this house and, after making several modifications for Luna, had started the long process of bringing their friend back. In spite of the healers' opinions, they were sure their Luna was still in there, as they kept getting flashes of their friend, but progress had been very slow, until now anyway.
"Luna, do you want to show Harry and Padma your surprise?" Hermione's voice tore Harry away from his thoughts.
"There's more?" Padma asked as Luna first stood and then stared at Hermione.
"A bit more, if she's up to it," Hermione said.
"Yes, please then." Padma spoke to Luna. "If you're up to it, please show us your surprise."
Luna stood on the couch and stared down at her four feet, and Harry could almost feel the dog-girl concentrate. Then, slowly, she changed; it took nearly five minutes to complete before the blonde girl was sitting where the collie had been sitting, but it had been four years since Harry had last seen the girl change herself into a human.
"Oh Luna!" Padma exclaimed. "Look at you!"
Luna leaned back into the couch, obviously exhausted from her effort, although she had a smile on her face, even as Padma engulfed the girl in her arms.
"You did say you had Luna change into a dog earlier," Harry said thoughtfully.
"Yes, and it's much easier for her to change into her fur," Hermione said, a little excitement in her voice as well. "This is the first time she's been able to do her change with her clothes still on. We've been practicing the last couple of days with no clothing."
Luna turned away from Padma's exuberant hug and looked at Harry, smiling even more before her mouth opened.
"Hello, Harry, welcome home."
The words were soft and slow, while the voice was rough from non-use, but based on Hermione's gasp, she hadn't expected any words at all.
"I'm glad to be here, Luna, welcome back," Harry choked out as he and Padma embraced their recovering friend.
What happens next? Whatever you want to happen, that is what.
I am stopping there as that is the end of my plot line and I am not going to continue with no plot. Will Luna recover enough to live a life away from Harry/Padma? I do not think so, but it is possible.
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 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 and she suggested the HP/Padma pairing, and 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.
References (again is some cases):
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.
The super polite manner of address that I tried to convey with Addison is an offshoot of the polite address used in Jane Austin's books. I tried to have Addison forego the use of contractions as a way to have him stand out. If you feel his speech felt odd, that is likely a part of why.
The Principle of Sympathy: Like produces like.
The Principle of Contagion: Once together, always together.
I'm using these magical laws as they are presented in "Master of the Five Magics", a fantasy novel by Lyndon Hardy, first published in 1980, although I don't think I read the original printing. No, they are not a big part of the story, but that is where I picked up the idea. I do know they show up other places, but my use of them comes from the novel.
The Patil estate:
en. Wikipedia wiki /Kerala
en. Wikipedia wiki/ Wayanad_district
en .wikipedia wiki /Agnihotra
I actually have other things started, and will continue working on them, but I expect they are more like novel length tales and it will be a while before they are done enough to start posting.