What if Luna responded differently to Harry during their conversation before the leaving feast? AU set near the end of OoTP. Harry/Luna
Chapter 3: The Plan.
'Wait up Luna'
As Harry called out she turned back to see what he wanted, just in time to see him stand up, and then lean over and talk briefly to his friends. Before long, Ron and Hermione got up and walked over to her.
"Come on Luna" Ron said. "Harry's going to catch up with us in a bit".
"Oh, alright then" She replied serenely, and followed them out of the hall.
"Where should we start looking Luna?" Hermione asked as they walked. Out of habit, Hermione had been leading them towards the library.
"Anywhere really" she replied "There isn't any sort of pattern to it". She realised that her missing possessions was probably what Harry had been speaking to them about.
"Pattern? Then…this has happened before?" Hermione said, somewhat shocked.
"Oh yes. People have been taking and hiding my things since my first year." She leaned in a little closer to Hermione and spoke conspiratorially "I think they must think I'm a little odd you know, because some of them call me 'Loony'."
Hermione could scarcely believe the matter-of-fact way Luna had accepted her housemate's cruelty – and this had been going on for four years? She impulsively grabbed Luna in a tight hug. What could Luna possibly have done to deserve that mistreatment? The injustice of it made her furious.
She released Luna and turned to Ron. "Right, Ronald, I want you to check the Quidditch pitch and change rooms. You know the area better than either of us would. Then I want you to check the classrooms on the first floor. I'll meet you back here in an hour." Her tone did not invite argument or debate.
"Err, sure Hermione. One question though; what am I looking for?"
Luna walked over to the nearby noticeboard, removed her note and handed it to Ron.
"Blimey, all that…" Hermione moved so that she could read the list over Ron's shoulder, and obligingly he tilted it towards her to make it easier. Hermione didn't say anything, but her look got even more determined if that was possible.
"This is really very nice of you" Luna said "But I'm sure everything will all turn up. It always has before."
Hermione thought about what Luna said for a moment, and then started nodding. "Yes I suppose your things would be returned eventually? If they stayed missing then you would almost be forced to report it, and that would result in an investigation that I doubt the perpetrators would want started."
Something occurred to her. "So if you aren't going to search for your things, and obviously you don't have your things to pack, what was it that you were going to do when you left the table? Hermione asked.
Luna tilted her head to the side a little as she looked at her, and Hermione got the distinct impression that Luna was deciding something… or… perhaps she was waiting for Hermione to work it out for herself?
Hermione turned her full focus to the problem. Nobody had said anything rude to her, not even Ron, who could usually be counted on to say something inappropriate. Perhaps she was embarrassed to be at the Gryffindor table? But no, that couldn't be it, since she'd come over herself, and taken a seat without even waiting for an invitation.
She said she'd come over for the pudding, but then why leave after only one spoonful? Hermione wondered. So if it wasn't the pudding, then why did she come over?
Well whatever the reason, Hermione was grateful as her arrival and interruption had managed to distract Harry from… Oh Merlin, how could I have been so blind?
"You brought him around earlier as well didn't you?" Hermione guessed.
"I was a little put out with you two at first, you know" Luna replied.
Hermione blushed. Ron just looked between them with a look of confusion.
"I'm... we're sorry Luna" Hermione said contritely
"What? We are? What are we sorry about?" Ron asked Hermione, even more confused.
"Honestly Ron! Think about it. When Harry left us earlier tonight he was depressed. He showed up feeling a lot better. He sits with us for 5 minutes and he's depressed again. It's clearly our fault, since we practically forced him to start thinking about Sirius again."
Hermione has started to pace during her explanation, and it was obvious she was becoming more annoyed.
"But all we did was tell him we were worried about him, and that he could talk to us" Ron argued. "How was that wrong?"
"It wasn't wrong…as such" Hermione agreed. "But we just didn't think it through. We should have known what Harry's reaction would be! We were idiots!"
"Yes, you were." Luna agreed happily
"You don't have to sound so pleased about it." Ron said, somewhat belligerently.
"Why ever not?" Luna replied. "It saves so much time if you already know what the problem is, and since you both love Harry you aren't going to do it again now that you know."
"Wha...what do you mean? I don't…I mean... that's not…" Ron stammered.
"Oh Ron, she's right. Harry's like family to us. Your mother has all but adopted him and he's as good as a brother to me. You love your family don't you?" Having said that, Hermione ignored Ron and turned back to Luna.
She took a breath, and then another, as though trying to delay what she was going to say next. "Luna, you seem to have given this a lot more thought than we have. Do you have any suggestions for how we can help Harry?"
"You think of Harry as family. Who do you think Harry thinks of as family now that his godfather is gone?" Luna asked.
Hermione paled. Harry had never considered the Dursleys to be 'family'. They were just 'relatives' that didn't want him. So with Sirius gone, he'd feel alone again.
"He doesn't think he has anyone left does he?" Hermione said softly.
"No! That's rubbish!" Ron exclaimed. "It's like she said. He's got us! And you said yourself that mum's all but adopted him. He's got us!" Ron insisted angrily to Hermione.
Hermione placed a hand on Ron's arm to try and calm him down. "I know Ron, but you know what Harry is like. He won't think of it the same way."
Ron looked about to argue, but stopped himself and looked thoughtful.
Hermione looked over at Luna, and she could see from her expression that something unpleasant must have occurred to her. "Luna, what is it?"
"We're going home tomorrow." She said sadly
"How do you suppose Harry will be spending his summer?" she almost whispered.
Hermione gasped. Those damnable relatives of his would torture him mercilessly.
"We've got to talk to Dumbledore. He can't possibly stay there!" she stated, and stormed off towards Dumbledore's office, too preoccupied to notice Ron and Luna following her. The headmaster would have to see that he couldn't stay with the Dursleys this summer. He'd need to be with people that cared about him, that could help him through this. Surely the headmaster would understand, wouldn't he?
When she reached the gargoyle she realised she had a problem. She had no idea what the password was. "Please, I must speak to the headmaster. It's about Harry, and it's very important." The gargoyle remained unmoved.
"Now what do we do?" Ron asked
Hermione barely hesitated. "We go and see McGonagall" she said, already moving towards her head of house's room, muttering to herself "What's wrong with me tonight, I should have gone to see her first."
"Miss Granger, Mr Weasley, Miss Lovegood. What can I do for you this evening?"
"Please professor, we need to see the headmaster about Harry". Hermione said.
Professor McGonagall frowned. "I'm afraid that's not going to be possible Miss Granger. He's been called to the ministry."
"He has? What has…"
"Miss Granger" McGonagall interrupted. "I'm sure you must already know I could hardly discuss ministry matters with a student, even if I did know the details of why he has been summoned. Now what is so important that you needed to bring it to the headmaster before even raising it with your head of house?"
Hermione blushed "I'm sorry professor, I've really not been thinking straight. It's just that we were talking about Harry, and we realised that he's going to be going home tomorrow to those horrible relatives of his. And he just can't be sent there!"
"Miss Granger…" McGonagall began
"Professor you must know what they're like. You've seen how he looks when he arrives at school each year."
"You know what he's just gone through. He needs to be with his friends! He needs to be with people that…"
Hermione flinched and stopped speaking immediately at the professor's raised voice. She couldn't remember ever hearing it directed at her before.
"Hermione, take a seat please". McGonagall said in a softer tone, but one that expected obedience. "You two as well" she said to Ron and Luna. She moved over to the tea service and poured three cups for her guests, then handed them around before taking up the cup she'd been drinking before answering the door.
"I shall infer from Harry's absence that he does not know of your… mission?" She said, having waited for Hermione to start drinking before saying anything.
"No professor, he doesn't" Hermione replied.
"Miss Granger, I am not unsympathetic to your request, and to be perfectly candid with you, I would tend to agree with your reasons. Though you may not share that admission with anyone" she finished, making eye contact with each of them.
Hermione deflated. "You're going to let him go back there aren't you? She said sadly.
Professor McGonagall looked uncomfortable. "Despite what you or I might think, the headmaster has always been most insistent that Harry returns to Number 4 Privet Drive Little Whinging each year. There are protections there that keep him safe."
Luna smiled brightly. "Thank you very much for the tea, and the conversation professor. We hope you have a lovely summer! Come along Hermione, Ron."
She got up and almost pushed the other two out of the room in her haste to leave.
Hermione was despondent. "I've failed him." She said, unshed tears in her eyes.
Luna gave her a hug. "Well of course you didn't, you got just what we needed!"
"I di…did? Hermione said, still on the verge of tears.
"Yes, you did" Luna said firmly. "Now we need to talk about what we're going to do. If you fail to plan, you plan to fail" she finished in a sing-song voice.
"His address!" Hermione blurted out. "McGonagall told us Harry's address!"
Luna smiled. "Yes she did. Now what do you suppose would happen if the headmaster learned that Harry didn't arrive at Privet Drive, or perhaps left there soon after arriving?"
"He'd send him back there." Ron said, without hesitation. "Oh bugger! The first place they'd look for him would be the burrow."
"And my house would be second." Hermione said. She looked over at Luna. "I suppose when McGonagall tells Dumbledore about our visit this evening, your house would be the third place they'd look."
"Oh, I expect so" Luna agreed. "But I won't be there. Daddy and I are going to Sweden to search for Crumple-Horned Snorkacks."
"What the bloody hell are crumble-horn Snorelax?" Ron asked
"Ronald, language!" Hermione chided before turning to Luna with a speculative look on her face. "I suppose it would be hard to get in contact with you if you were out looking for those things?"
"Well yes, we have to put up wards so that the Snorkacks can't detect us, otherwise we'd never be able to find them." Luna replied.
"So it's like a camping holiday then? Quite relaxing?" Hermione asked.
"It's very relaxing" Luna agreed. "We have a lovely wizard's tent and everything we could need."
"So if someone wanted to join you on your trip?"
"Oh there is plenty of room, and we still have all of mum's things. She used to camp with us as well."
At Hermione's look, Luna shook her head. "Not now, another time Hermione."
Hermione nodded. "Alright, so plan A is for Harry to leave with you straight from the station, but if that falls through, you'll pick him up from Privet Drive?"
"What if we need to contact him?" Hermione asked
Luna's face lost her smile. "You should send a message to him via Gringotts. Once we get to Sweden I'll get Daddy to go into the local branch and let them know how to contact us…and Harry."
"Why would Gringotts want to…Oh…I see"
Ron sighed, "Hermione…"
"Sirius' will Ron. Harry was his Godson, so he's probably the main beneficiary. Gringotts will want Harry to attend the will reading." Hermione explained.
"Oh" Ron said, lost for words. He didn't think Harry was going to take that news well at all.
While they were thinking about that, Harry came jogging up. He folded up the marauders map and put it in a pocket. "Hey guys!" he said, with a big smile on his face.
"Guess what Luna" He said, smiling at her.
"You've seen a Blibbering Humdinger?" Luna squealed happily
Harry laughed. "Nope, no Humdingers, and no Nerfherders either for that matter."
"Nerfherders?" Hermione said looking at Luna with a raised eyebrow.
"Hmmm, well it couldn't be Nargles, because there's no…
Harry interrupted what he was sure would be an endless list of imaginatively named creatures. "We've got all your stuff back! Padma's taken the culprits off to Professor Flitwick, so it won't be happening ever again!" he said beaming at her, happy that his friend wouldn't have to go through that again.
Luna stood gaping at him for a moment, then with tears welling in her eyes she rushed at him and gave him a Molly-worthy hug.
"Air…Luna…need to…breathe" Harry gasped out.
She loosened her grip a little and whispered "thank you so much Harry" in his ear. She hugged him for a little while longer, then kissed his cheek before releasing him, her eyes glistening.
"Thank you" she said to him. "And thank you all as well. Apart from Ginny, I've never had friends before. It's wonderful."
Predictably, Hermione grabbed Luna in a hug while telling her that of course they were her friends. Then, slightly less predictably, Hermione grabbed Harry in a hug. "You are a wonderful friend you know. Thank you for what you did for Luna." Harry gave her a squeeze in acknowledgement.
Ron smiled "What, no hugs for me?" He pouted outrageously after Hermione let Harry go.
The girls smiled and both gave him a hug together. Ron smirked at Harry with an arm around each of them.
Harry laughed. "Alright Casanova, time to let 'em go. We really need to get back to our common rooms now as it's almost curfew. Come on Luna, we'll walk you back to your tower."
When they reached the door to Ravenclaw tower, Luna gave them all another hug, and Harry got another kiss on his cheek as well. "I really do thank you Harry. You don't know what you've done for me." She said to him.
"We'll see you tomorrow morning at breakfast Luna" Hermione said, waving her goodnight.
She turned to Harry "And you have a story to tell us while we walk back."
He grinned at her. "Did you know the Ravenclaw common room has these huge windows with blue and bronze hangings? Oh, and these big bookcases as well!"
Hermione gasped, and made as though she was going to head back and try to get Luna to give her a tour. Harry nodded at Ron, and each grabbed an arm and started walking her back towards Gryffindor tower.
"So anyway, I couldn't find Padma, or Parvati, so I grabbed Anthony to see if he could help…"