What if Luna responded differently to Harry during their conversation before the leaving feast? AU set near the end of OoTP. Harry/Luna
Chapter 4: The End of Term.
"Hey Harry! Are you planning on getting up anytime soon? Everyone else has already gone down to breakfast"
Harry just muttered something incomprehensible and rolled over, hoping that Neville would take his cheerfulness downstairs. He hated the last day of term with a passion as it signalled his return to Durzkaban.
"Come on Harry, they're not going to hold the express for you and you'll have to stay here all summer."
"Chance would be a fine thing" Harry muttered under his breath, realising his attempt to return to sleep was probably futile, but that wouldn't stop him from trying.
"Alright Harry, don't say I didn't warn you... Aguamenti".
A stream of cold water hit Harry in the head and he sat up spluttering for awhile before Neville eventually cancelled his charm. "Oops, forgot the counter-charm for a minute there. Sorry." he said with a smirk.
"Oh, bollocks!" Harry exclaimed. "What the bloody hell did you do that for Neville? Why aren't you down at breakfast yourself and leaving me the hell alone?" he demanded.
"I was down at breakfast, and enjoying the company of my other friends as well" Neville replied. "But since I emptied my plate before Ron, I was 'volunteered' to fetch you. And Harry..." Neville paused for effect. "As scary as you are, Hermione made a point of reminding me that she knows lots more spells than you. Then Luna added that she was going to find some spiny-legged... whatsits to infest my boxers if I didn't bring you back post-haste. He frowned for a second. "I'm not exactly sure what Ron said as he still had at least two sausages in his mouth at the time." He shrugged off the memory looking unconcerned. "So, is it going to be a Petrificus and a Mobilicorpus, or will you come along quietly?" Neville asked.
Harry just gaped at him as his friends monologue continued, then at Neville's question wisely decided not to test his resolve. "Alright, alright... can I at least grab a quick shower, or would you prefer to just finish what you started with your wand?" He said to Neville, not particularly graciously. His morning grump was still in full swing.
Neville obligingly raised his wand.
"Errrr, wait, no, that's ok Neville, just kidding." Harry said quickly, hands held out in front of him in classic 'stop, calm down' gestures. "Bloody hell Neville, I've never known you to be quite so...umm... bugger, I don't know how to describe it." Harry trailed off uncertainly.
"Assertive? Confident maybe?" Neville offered.
"Yeah, exactly." Harry agreed.
Neville shrugged "I realised after that night at the ministry, that it was time I grew up. Besides, you do realise that the six of us held off twelve death eaters? We're bloody heroes! Well, I mean you've always been, but Gran said she'd never been prouder of me. She said... she said my parents would've been proud too, and... I, I want to believe her."
"I was there Nev, remember? There's absolutely no question of it, they'd be proud as hell! I know I was, errr, am...oh bugger it, you know what I mean!" Harry rubbed his head. It was way too early in the morning for him to have to make sense. "I'm going to grab a shower." He decided.
He grabbed some clean clothes and was about to head off when something occurred to him.
"Hey, when did you get a new wand? I thought yours broke?"
"It did" Neville agreed. "Ginny loaned me hers when they sent me up to get you. She thought I might need it for some 'extra encouragement'. She insisted actually. Guess she was right." He grinned.
Harry reached over and tossed his wet pillow at him. "I'll meet you down there soon." Harry said, moving off into the bathroom.
"No rush" Neville called out to him amiably. "I can use the time to tell them how the 'extra encouragement' worked out."
"Bugger! No wait! Give me 5 minutes Nev, that's all I'm asking... Nev? You still there? Oh bollocks! I bloody HATE the last day of term!"
Racing into the great hall, it didn't take long for Harry to find the others. It also didn't take him long to realise that Luna had joined the Gryffindors for breakfast, as her high peals of laughter rang out from the group of Gryffindors clustered around a wildly gesticulating Neville.
Sighing tragically, Harry summoned up his Gryffindor bravery and headed over to join his friends.
As he reached the table, Ginny and Luna slid apart to make a space for him to sit down. Hermione was sandwiched between Ron and Neville on the other side of the table.
"Hey guys, what's up? He asked.
"You are, finally!" Ginny replied, sending Luna off into further peals of laughter, as though this was the funniest jest she'd heard all year. This caused a great deal of chuckling amongst the others. Against the wishes of his grump, Harry couldn't help but chuckle along as well. There was something about Luna's laughter that he found infectious.
Hermione reached over and grabbed his plate, and swapped it with her own."Here Harry, I saved you some breakfast before it all disappeared." She said, giving a nod in Ron's direction.
"Thanks Hermione" Harry said gratefully, and started to tuck in to his eggs.
As he ate, he listened to the conversations going on around him. Luna was explaining some article or quiz in the Quibbler to Ginny, who sounded as though she was interested in it. Ron on the other hand was trying to convince Neville that the Cannons were going to be a 'dead cert' for the finals now that they were going to have Gudgeon coach some new recruit they'd picked up. Hermione seemed to be trying to listen in to both conversations at the same time, and added a comment here and there to each.
"Oh good grief Potter! Haven't you surrounded yourself with enough losers you have to attract them from other houses as well?" Harry realised that Malfoy's arrogant drawl always managed to push his buttons, and wondered whether he practiced his snarkiness, or if it came naturally.
He reached over and lifted some of Luna's hair, as though inspecting the strands. "Well, I suppose she is at least a pureblood, even if...urk!" Harry had looked around and when he saw what Malfoy was doing, he had leapt to his feet, his hand shooting out and around Malfoy's throat, rage twisting his features.
"You touch her again Malfoy, and so help me, I'll..."
"POTTER! RELEASE HIM IMMEDIATELY!"
Harry turned his cold stare from Malfoy to Professor Snape. He had reflexively squeezed a little tighter at the sight of the hated potions master, but released his grip on Malfoy's throat as ordered.
"I'll see you expelled for this!" Snape hissed at him.
Harry just stared at him and didn't respond. It wasn't as though he hadn't heard that before.
"Well, what do you have to say for yourself?" Snape demanded.
"About what? You haven't asked me anything" Harry asked.
"What do you have to say about your impending expulsion, you foolish boy?"
Harry shrugged. "Nothing" he replied.
"So, you admit you deserve expulsion then?" Snape practically crowed. Malfoy had a look that suggested his Christmas had come early.
"That isn't what I meant" Harry replied calmly. 'I'm not giving those gits the satisfaction' he thought to himself.
"Oh really" sneered the professor. "Then by all means, explain yourself."
"I have nothing to say, since you don't have the power to expel me. If you did, then I'd have been on the train home before I'd been sorted in my first year. As it is, all you can do is yell and bluster, since even the house points are done for the year." Harry paused to consider something. "And since we are leaving in about an hour, you don't even have time to allocate any detentions or punishments."
Snape looked at him as though considering whether he would be able to justify drawing his wand and cursing him on the spot.
"However, since I'm sure you will at least insist on an apology..." Harry turned to Malfoy, and mimicked the Slytherin git's usual drawl and manner.
"Malfoy I apologise. I suppose it's not your fault you are such a foul git, having been raised by death eaters, what else could you be?" He looked Malfoy up and down with a sneer. "Then again, I suppose it could be inbreeding... My aunt Marge always says that if there's something wrong with the bitch, then there's something wrong with the pup."
Snape snarled and reached out, grabbing Harry's robes.
"Professor Snape!" Minerva McGonagall's voice rang out. "I'll thank you to not manhandle my students!"
Snape released Harry and stepped back with an angry glare.
"Potter! With me. Now!" McGonagall said, walking off briskly before Snape had a chance to say or do anything else. Harry smirked at Malfoy and followed his head of house.
She led him into her office, and she sat down behind her desk, leaving him standing.
"Potter, what could you possibly have been thinking?"
Harry shrugged. As satisfying as it was to talk back to Snape and give Malfoy back some of his own medicine, he knew that it came with a price. They got away with it, he never could. That's just the way things were.
"What would you have me say professor? For five years Malfoy has done nothing but provoke and insult me and my friends. None of the professors do anything to curb him, and we are the ones that always end up in trouble."
"Surely you exaggerate the situation?"
Harry just muttered under his breath.
"What was that?" She asked.
"I said I don't know why I bother talking to you!" Harry replied angrily "It's not as though you're actually going to do anything about it."
McGonagall looked shocked. She'd never known Harry to be so angry with her.
"First year; I came to you to tell you the stone was going to be stolen. Did you believe me? No - you didn't even bother to hear our reasons. Me and my friends had to go and save it ourselves. Oh and lets not forget that was the year we got 50 points off each, and bloody detention at night in the forbidden forest - and for what? Walking the halls after curfew? Thank Merlin we didn't tell you we were trying to save Hagrid's job that night by sending off the baby dragon he'd hatched."
Harry was pacing in his anger. Years of frustration had been topped off this year by Umbridge, the ministry, and the prophecy, and he'd had enough of trying to bottle it up. The anger he'd had during his rant in Dumbledore's office was coming back to him as well. Damn Malfoy, and damn Snape for doing this to him!
"You have a right funny way of looking after your Gryffindors you know. Ihate Snape's guts, but it couldn't be said he doesn't look after his Slytherins. I tried to do as you said around Umbridge this year, and look what it got me!"
He thrust his fist under McGonagall's nose, and she thought at first he was going to hit her. Then she made out the scars on the back of his hand. "I must not tell lies".
"Where..how did you get those..."
"Bloody Umbridge made me write lines with this quill she had that wrote with my blood."
McGonagall gasped. "A blood quill..." She tried to regain her composure, with little success. "Why didn't..."
"Why didn't I tell you?" Harry asked sarcastically. "Would it have done any good? You'd already proved how well you listen in my first year. You know, I've had five years of abuse from Snape, and probably lost more bloody house points in that class than most entire houses do. Have you ever followed up the unfairness of that? Do you even care that he makes a mockery of the house points system? Gah, why do I even bother..."
A chime was heard, signalling that the coaches would be departing for the Hogsmeade station in 30 minutes.
He stopped his pacing and returned to standing in front of McGonagall's desk."So what happens now, professor? By all means keep me here at school and assign me punishments. Whatever you have in mind won't be any worse than what I'll have to put up with at the Dursleys, where I can look forward to starvation and a list of chores every day that would make a house elf sigh."
McGonagall seemed almost speechless. "Harry, I...I will follow up the things you've said to me...and I will see what I can do about the...the problems you...you've raised. For now, I...I think you should go and get your things and meet up with your friends. I'll talk to the headmaster when he returns, and I'll make sure you're not expelled."
Harry gave her a wry grin "I don't have to worry about being expelled professor. Our dear headmaster won't let his weapon out of his control after all."
McGonagall stared at him "Weapon? What weapon, what..."
Harry looked at her in disbelief. "You mean, he hasn't even told you the prophecy yet? You know, the one that starts; the one with the power to vanquish the dark lord approaches... that one? Well I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. The old bastard didn't bother telling me about it until after Sirius was dead. You'd think he might have made a bit of an effort to train me up though. I'm not likely to have much of a chance to vanquish anyone, let alone a Dark Lord with the generally piss-poor defence professors he's been hiring. You have to laugh don't you - the ruddy death eater that impersonated Moody did the best job, though I did like Remus."
McGonagall had gone white, and her throat had tightened up completely. She was unable to speak, and could only stare at him, stunned at what she'd just heard.
"Well, I suppose I'd best go then?" He gave her a chance to say something, and then turned back with his hand on the doorknob. "Regardless of what I just said, I am glad you're back professor. We were all outraged at what Umbridge did to you when she went after Hagrid". He opened the door and left the office, closing the door behind him.
McGonagall slumped in misery. His claims were outrageous, surely? Yet...could she have failed her Gryffindors so badly? Harry seemed to think so. She took out some parchment and jotted down some notes to remind herself of what he'd said. She owed it to herself to review his claims. And if he was right? She asked herself. Well, in that case, things would need to change! "And what about that prophecy? She shook her head. Albus was going to have some explaining to do.
Harry raced up the stairs to the Gryffindor common room to get his trunk, only to find everything and everyone gone from the dorms. Turning around, he raced down to the main entrance to find one Thestral-drawn carriage, four Gryffindors, one Ravenclaw and a Care of Magical Creatures professor waiting for him.
"Alrigh' Harry? Best be gettin' on board 'fore yeh miss the train."
"Thanks Hagrid" Harry replied, "and thanks for waiting guys."
"No worries mate" Ron responded. "We took care of your trunk too. We knew McGonagall wouldn't keep you here." He said with a smile.
"Yeah, you got that right" Harry said. No point letting them know why... he thought to himself, as they all got on board. Harry found himself sandwiched in between Hermione and Luna.
As the carriage started moving, Luna turned to him and gave him a tight hug and started shaking. It took a moment for him to realise she was sobbing silently, and when he did he hugged her back.
"Hey Luna, what's wrong?" He asked, concerned.
"Oh Harry, I'm so sorry you got into trouble because of me. They s...said that you would be expelled."
"Well, you don't have to worry about that, I'm not going to be expelled, and it wasn't your fault anyway. It was Malfoy's fault for provoking me, and my own fault for letting him. You didn't do anything wrong, so no more tears, yeah? How are you going to cheer me up with all those tears leaking out of you?"
If anything she squeezed him tighter in response, but then she relaxed. She gave him a kiss on the cheek before loosening her grip on him and pulling back alittle. Drawing her arms back, she ended up hugging his arm to her, and seemed content to keep a grip on it as long as she could.
"Well, I want to thank you for standing up for me Harry, it made me feel special to know that someone cared enough about me to do that."
"We're your friends, Luna. We'll all stand up for you. I just happened to be closer this time that's all" Harry said, as the others nodded their agreement with Harry's claim.
Harry noticed that Luna smiled at the others, but didn't make any move to release his arm and try to hug them. 'Probably too hard to do that in the carriage' he thought, while the part of his mind that was enjoying Luna's attention whispered; 'good!'
Ginny pulled out Luna's Quibbler, and started reading one of the articles to everyone's amusement. Luna made herself a little more comfortable, and in the process, she adjusted her grip on his left arm. Her right hand had snaked lower to hold his hand, while her left clutched his upper arm close to her chest. Her head rested on his shoulder.
Harry closed his eyes and leaned back against the seat as the carriage rocked its way to the station. He listened to Ginny reciting the Quibbler article and tried to clear his mind of his anger and frustration. He only had this time and the trip on the express with his friends, and he didn't want to waste that time being angry.
By the time they reached Hogsmeade, he thought he had done a good job of relaxing. Though if he were truthful, the warm, blond girl on his left had far more to do with it than anything he'd done.
Walking through the Hogwart's Express, Harry realised that as the last students to board, they'd never find an empty compartment so they could all sit together on the trip back. As they passed by a half empty compartment containing some Hufflepuffs from the DA, the door opened.
"There you are Harry! Well come in. Ernie, Hannah and I were holding this one for you! We're travelling with Justin and the others in the next compartment."
Hermione answered for Harry who just gaped at her. "Thank you Susan, that was very kind of you and your friends. I'm sure our stupefied friend here will tell you the same thing once we ennervate him." She nudged Harry.
"Yes, very kind...ummm, well, thanks Susan." Harry said, still trying to process the fact that they'd gone out of their way to save he and his friends a compartment.
"You're welcome Harry. We still owe you for the DA." She said, smiling at him as she left for the adjacent compartment, Hannah followed her with a smile for him as well. "Bye Harry" she said in passing.
Ernie clapped him on the shoulder as he went past. "This is the least we could do for you Harry."
The group piled in and sat down, seated in the same way that they had in the carriage. Luna regained her possession of Harry's arm, and Harry couldn't think of any reason not to let her. He had asked her to cheer him up, and it seemed she'd decided this was the way she was going to do it. It was working.
Ginny had barely begun reading from the Quibbler again when the door opened to reveal Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle.
"So Potter, enjoying your last ride on the express are you? Of course, even if you weren't expelled it's not like you would live through the summer now that..."
A large assortment of spells hit Malfoy and his goons and they were blasted down the corridor. Susan, Hannah, Ernie, Justin, Anthony and Terry walked into view, wands in hand. Terry poked his head in on the way past. "Sorry about the interruption guys, we'll just take out the rubbish." He waved at them in farewell and closed the door.
As Ginny started reading again, Harry thought about all the oddities that had been occurring this morning. It could all be coincidence he thought to himself, yet... Not one of his friends had asked him about his meeting with McGonagall yet. He'd have bet galleons that either Ron or Hermione would have asked him. Come to think of it, they hadn't asked him how he was feeling this morning either - that was new.
It was almost as though they had decided not to ask him any questions, and would let him decide what and when to talk to them about things. If that was the case, shouldn't he tell them what had happened this morning? 'Well, part of it at least' he decided. He owed them some explanation.
He cleared his throat. "So, who wants to hear about how I told McGonagall off this morning?" he asked.
He looked around the compartment and counted 4 dropped jaws and one smile.