In which a Lieutenant discovers a Lord and a dream is beheld.
Chapter Two: Ghosts in the Soul
Nimi glared at Apollo. "And why wasn't I informed sooner?"
Her elder brother winced a the strength of her glare, but, to his credit, he didn't back away. "Because you hate these things," he said calmly.
Her glare grew darker. "Exactly. I could have found a way to avoid it."
Apollo grinned. "Exactly. Besides, great-Aunt Dione says, and I quote, 'if she doesn't start coming to these things, she'll completely screw her chances of landing herself a young man. Pass the firewhisky.'"
Nimi, despite herself, grinned. "Trust the old woman to get herself loaded." Then she sighed. ''Pollo, do I really hafta go?"
He ruffled her hair playfully. "Yes, you do, 'Mi."
She heaved another heavy sigh. "All right, all right. But you know that I don't own a single dress."
"Who said you had to come in a dress?" Apollo said with a small laugh. "Wear jeans and a tee for all I care. The only one it'll matter to is great-Auntie Dione, and we both know she'll be drunk as a hog."
Nimi grinned. "Alright then, I s'pose I'll come."
Apollo clapped her on the back. "Thanks, sis. I'll see you at nine, alright?' She nodded, and with a last smile her brother left. She leaned up against her now closed door.
"Why?" she moaned to herself. Her great-Aunt Dione's parties were always the worst. They always ended with a bunch of old ladies bombarding her, asking why she hadn't settled down yet, and why on earth she had joined the militia. She always ended up running away.
She looked at the clock. Six. That meant she had three hours. She had to patrol at eight, but that should be over by about nine, and Porschiabeleia should be back tomorrow, hopefully...
An hour and a half later, and she had finally decided what to wear and laid it out. The peasant shirt was black, and the jeans loose with a flare cut. Hurrying out to switch places with Grenn, she gave one glance back to the outfit on her bed before nodding and locking her door.
"Lieutenant," she said to Grenn with a nod. He grinned at her and left, presumably to meet with Georgia again, and Nimi began her rounds.
And the future was set in motion as she noticed a light from one of the cells.
Unsure as to what it could be, she walked slowly forward, wand out, and opened the cell door and stepped in. A man was passed out on the floor- the same one she had seen yesterday, she recalled. Her heart clenched; had he been out that long? Performing a quick Stunning spell, just in case he was faking it, she hurried forward and turned him over.
There didn't seem to be anything wrong with him; he was breathing, and he looked almost... peaceful. Trying to see where the light was coming from, she finally looked on the palm of his left hand.
A sharp intake of breath could be heard.
She stared at the calloused hand resting in hers. 'It's probably just some sort of magical tattoo,' she thought dazedly. 'It can't be him. How could it be?'
She was torn. This man wore the Rune of Azkaban. So what did she do? If it was real, and she brought him, then he could get the Ministry to leave... But if she was wrong, and she brought him, she'd get fired. If she was wrong and she didn't bring him, it didn't matter, but if she was right and she didn't... Then she would have denied Azkaban its freedom, and that was more important to her than any job, even this one, which she loved so much.
Muttering a spell, she levitated the man towards the Hospital Wing. Breaking into a nervous run, she burst through the doors. "Helene!" she shrieked.
The short, skinny French-descended woman with the white-blond hair and bright blue eyes ran in. "What is it?" she asked, before catching sight of the floating man and gasping. "Oh, good lord! Here, put him here..." She helped Nimi lower him onto a bed. "What happened to him?"
Nimi shrugged helplessly. "I don't know, he was passed out on the floor of his cell..."
Helene's hand flew to her mouth. "Oh, Nimi, the Ministry..."
She cut the woman off. "I know, but I had a good reason for this. Look." She lifted the man's hand, and Helene gasped.
"Can it be...?" she whispered.
Nimi shrugged helplessly. "I don't know. We'd have to ask the Council."
Helene snapped to herself. "Right," she said calmly, "I'll see to him, and you use the network in my office to call the Council."
Nimi nodded and ran into Helene's office. She immediately scanned her hand over the large pad in front of a screen.
"Welcome, Nimi Stardreamer," a computerized voice came. "Who are you requesting?"
"Anyone from the Council," Nimi said briskly. There was a whirring, and then the screen flickered to life. A tired looking old man was standing in front of it. "Yes?" he asked politely.
Nimi bowed. "Master Besk'Ali, I am sorry to bother you, but... you see..." Somehow, she just couldn't think of how to say it.
"Yes?"' the man snapped. "Spit it out, girl!"
Nimi turned bright red. "I apologize. It is just, you see... While I was on my rounds, filling in for my Lieutenant, I discovered a prisoner in one of the cells... Sir, he had the Rune of Azkaban, and it was glowing."
The Councilman stared at her. "Where are you?"
"Hospital Wing," she answered promptly.
Master Besk'Ali nodded curtly. "I shall assemble the Council members and meet you there."
Nimi nodded as well, and Master Besk'Ali signed off. After staring for a moment at the now-black screen, Nimi turned and briskly walked out of the office and back to Helene and the man.
"I got a hold of Master Besk'Ali," she said softly. "He's on his way."
Helene nodded. "Good. He's still out cold though," she said, gesturing to the unconscious figure of their possible Lord. "Near as I can tell, it was just Dementor Backlash. I've never seen a case this serious, though. He must have had a horrible life, if the Dementors could do this to him."
Nimi scrutinized him. Messy black hair, high cheekbones, thin face. Rather tall, it seemed, and though thin, not scrawny. She couldn't tell anything from what she could see; may haps once she could see his eyes. "It's rather odd, Helene. You say he was suffering from Dementor Backlash... but when I walked in, he looked so... so peaceful. Helene, he was smiling."
The woman stared at her. "Really?" Nimi nodded. "Perhaps..." Helene mused. "Perhaps, he was sucked down so deep, that he was able to... to escape the effects, to fall into a more natural sleep. Perhaps, Captain, he was dreaming."
Nimi opened her mouth to speak,. but at that moment, four men and three women, all in heavy-looking robes with their hair in various states of disarray, ran into the room. "Is this him?" Master Besk'Ali asked after catching his breath. Nimi nodded.
The Council walked forward, and Helene and Nimi respectfully backed away as they formed a half-circle around the bed. "How did you find him?" Master Kaitrinea asked.
Nimi retold her tale. "Do you think..." she asked hesitantly as she finished.
"We will have to examine the rune," Master Jineoa said softly.
Without speaking again, the Head of the Council, Master Troun'Farr'Haich picked up the man's left hand and traced the rune on the palm. A bright light blasted through the rom, and Nimi and Helene covered their eyes. when the light cleared, the Council was all staring at the still unconscious man. "Our Lord has returned," Master Besk'Ali whispered before falling to the ground in a dead faint.
Harry was dreaming.
He was a baby, about a year old he supposed, and he was sitting on his mothers lap while they watched his father and Remus and Sirius play Quidditch along with a woman he had never seen before. From what he could see, the woman had curly brown hair and violet eyes, and was smiling and laughing as though she would never stop.
He looked to his right, and saw another woman where. She had long, wavy blond hair and bright blue eyes. She held out her arms, and Harry found himself being lifted into her arms. She wrapped her arms around his waist, and he glanced at his mother for a moment before concentrating on the game again.
His father dove for a glint of gold, and the brown-haired woman immediately followed. Sirius and Remus hovered in the air, critically watching the dive, Remus was cheering for his father, and Sirius for "Mel".
His father caught the Snitch, but just barely, and, laughing like a maniac, ran over to where Harry was and hefted him onto his shoulders. "That," James Potter said with a laugh, "is your father kicking your godmother's ass!"
The female Seeker chuckled and hit his father in the arm. "You jerk, you're messing up his head!"
James stuck his tongue out at her. "No, I'm just telling him the truth."
To Harry's surprise, Sirius stepped forward wrapping his arm around the woman's waist and kissing her on the cheek with a small laugh. "Hey, you and I both know that she's the best Chaser Hogwarts has ever seen."
The woman blushed. "Oh, stop it Sir. I'm not that good."
Remus laughed. "Honestly, Mel, you're wonderful!"
The woman that had previously been holding him smiled and slid her hand into Remus'. "Remmy and Sirius are right, Melly. You're great!"
As the playful argument continued, Harry found himself being dragged away to another time, another place. He guessed that he was about seven months old in this one, and he was shakily standing next to his mother and walking over to his father, who's arms were outstretched with a humongous grin on his face.
"Come here, Prongs let!" James called. "Come to Daddy!"
Harry, to his embarrassment, giggled, and toddled over. He collapsed in his father's arms, looking at his mother, who had tears in her eyes. "Oh, my baby boy, so grown up, I'm so proud of you..."
The scene changed again. He seemed to be just over a year, and he was sitting in his crib, playing with a stuffed stag, wolf, dog, and, to his disgust, rat. He looked up at his mother and began to cry.
Lily, in the rocking chair beside the crib, immediately picked him up and held him close. "Shhh, shhhh, Harry, it's okay," she whispered. When he still didn't stop crying, she kissed his head and began to sing and rock.
Things I almost remember
And a song
Once upon a December.
Someone holds me safe and warm,
Horses prance on a silver storm
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory...
Glowing dim as an ember
There's a place
I used to know
Once upon a December."
Harry looked up into his mother's face and felt a sudden, overwhelming sense of peace. She had a beautiful voice, and somehow the melody sounded so familiar to him...
To his disappointment, he was once again dragged to another place, another time. Now, he was about five, sitting in his cupboard. "Did my parents love me?" he asked himself in a tiny voice.
Another scene- or was it the same? He was older now, but still in his cupboard, still thinking the same things.
Again, and again, the changes became quicker- until, he saw a scene he knew for sure- it was shortly after he had gotten back to the Dursleys', about a month before his trial. And he was thinking the same things once more.
With an odd sense of finality, he was pulled once more from the scene and into blissful darkness, with one last thought echoing in his mind- they had.
Luna paced her compartment on the train. She had put a complex locking spell on the door, and was relieved to think that she'd be alone for the whole trip. It would give her more time to think.
"Something just doesn't add up," she muttered to herself. She knew that Harry was innocent, but why had he said he was guilty under Veritaserum? Was it just a faulty batch? Had it been sabotaged? Or was it something other than the potion?
She did not know. All she really knew was that if she had thought she had had no friends in the past, she had thought wrong. She doubted Ron, Hermione, Neville, and Ginny would hesitate to spread the information that she thought Harry innocent- in fact, by the time they got to the school, everyone on the train would probably already know.
Flopping into a chair, she resigned herself to another horrible year.
A/N: The lullaby was "Once Upon a December", taken from the Warner Bros. movie Anastasia.