Continued, confrontation and questions in the Headmistress office
As the two of them entered through the main door of the castle, both, Harry and Luna were not prepared to be welcomed by Luna's head of house, whom grinned wide enough to confuse him with a goblin upon seeing the smiles on their faces and their hands interlinked. Harry looked taken aback for a moment, but didn't even consider relinquishing hold of Luna.
"Mr. Potter, Ms. Lovegood, the Headmistress has requested a meeting with you upon your immediate return to the castle. The password has been changed temporarily to honor Albus. Lemon drop?" He said, and walked toward the direction of Ravenclaw Tower. Harry and Luna watched the short-stature professor walk off merrily and just before he was about out of site he turned quickly. "Mr. Potter, remember to state the password as if it were a question, the Headmistress was most specific about that. Good evening," he said merrily before turning the corner out of sight.
Walking to the headmistress' office proved to take all of five minutes and upon knocking on the exterior of the door, they were just able to hear some muffled arguments. This was immediately followed by some scurrying around.
"Enter." They heard the headmistress say from behind the door.
Cautiously Harry and Luna both entered crossed the room and took a seat in the two proffered seats in front of the headmistress' desk. Once sitting, Harry looked up and caught sight of a faint smile across the visage of Minerva McGonagall's face, which he could not quite place where he'd seen her like that. It was if a very far away dream, long ago.
"You wanted to see us, Professor." Harry said, clearly still deep in thought about her smile.
"Yes, Mr. Potter. It has come to my attention the actions of Miss Weasley against you, and was curious as to how to proceed. I wish to discuss this with you, amongst other topics before you everyone leaves tomorrow for summer holiday."
"And what would be the other topics that you wish to discuss, Headmistress?" Harry asked, nervously, and Luna sensing this gently squeezed his hand.
Minerva McGonagall took out a small polished cherry wooden box and placed it in front of Harry on her desk. Harry careful took the box, running his hand over the smooth surface. He then slowly opened the box to reveal a gold Signet Ring with a very unusual stone.
"It's a blood stone, Mr. Potter, and as you can see the veins of red formed what appears to be a griffin."
"What aren't you telling me, Headmistress?" Harry asked getting more and more nervous.
"Harry, after Godric Gryffindor was forced to take the life of his best friend, Salazar Slytherin, he left Hogwarts, leaving it in the charge of Rowena Ravenclaw and Helga Hufflepuff. It is said that he wasn't heard of again by the wizarding world. However," Minerva sighed deeply realizing that this was something that Albus should have both told and prepared him for long before now. "He changed his surname to Potter."
"Bloody hell." Harry said, slumping in the chair. Then he thought about it. He thought about what had happened to his parents and what had happened each and every year that he was at Hogwarts. It made sense that Voldemort would come for him. It made sense that Voldemort would seek out revenge for what had happened to his ancestor. "Is this something that should be public knowledge?"
"Unfortunately, it was well documented that the Potters were heirs of Gryffindor. They long held seats on the Wizengamot and had always been prominent in Wizarding society."
"Headmistress, thank you for giving me the ring, but I'm still afraid I don't know why it would be pertinent to give it to me at this point."
"Harry, with Albus gone..." She stopped, turned and looked at the sleeping portrait of Albus Dumbledore, and then turning to look at the sixteen year old boy who was forced into adulthood far too soon. She had warned Albus, and he hadn't listened. "With him gone, the world will look to you as a leader."
"I don't want that, I'm not a leader..."
"Mister Potter you most certainly are. Who led your DA?"
"Hermione, Ron and I led the DA."
"I think that you give your friends too much credit. While I will concede that they helped you at each and every turn, the remaining members of that group flocked there because of you. You're a natural leader Harry. Look, I'm sorry that this falls to you, and if you need any assistance, I'm more than happy to lend it but you will lead the wizarding world down the path that it is meant to go. How you handle that leadership will directly impact the results of this ensuing conflict."
"Was that all?" Harry asked, rudely.
"The Board of Governors is threatening to keep the school closed after this terms conclusion. With you as heir apparent for the House of Gryffindor it is within your power to influence them. There will be a meeting in two weeks time which will require the presence of Miss Lovegood as heir of Ravenclaw, and Miss Susan Bones as the last heir of Hufflepuff and you, Mr. Potter. I've already talked with Ms. Bones and she assures me that she is for the school re-opening." Harry, having heard this looked confused in Luna's direction, who was sitting there with her standard dreamy expression.
"Did you know about being Rowena's heir, Luna?" Harry asked puzzled. Noting that when asking her the question her expression didn't change, however she did look him directly in the eye and nodded slightly with a smile. Harry sighed, looking back at the headmistress, and nodded himself, before taking his ring and placing in on the middle finger of his left hand.
"Ah, Harry James, Heir of Gryffindor, at last you've found me again!" A voice was heard by Harry and Harry alone.
"What the..." Harry exclaimed, standing up abruptly.
"Not aloud, Mr. Potter. Never aloud. We will talk later, but rest assured that I will help you." The ethereal male voice said.
"You can hear my thoughts," Harry questions a little nervous having his thoughts drift to the events of second year and to that of the diary of Tom Marvolo Riddle.
"Of course I can, but at this very moment, Mr. Potter you have two ladies looking at you quite incredulously, and I would only assume questioning your sanity. Make no mention of me, as its knowledge is Gryffindor's only, I'm afraid."
"But, Minerva's headmistress of Hogwarts and was Head of Gryffindor house to boot." Harry thought was a reasonable counter.
"It's not for her to know, I'm afraid, but rest assured that all will become apparent, shortly, Harry. I will answer all of your questions."
"You had better."
"Mr. Potter, are you alright? Do you need to go to the hospital wing?"
"I'm fine, Headmistress. I can only assume that what happened after I put the ring on was normal." Harry asked suddenly.
"Quite normal, in fact, I remember that your father had the same reaction, himself, when he assumed the ring from his dad."
"I don't mean any disrespect, Headmistress, but would you mind terribly if I asked you a couple of questions that I find myself not really having any answers to?"
"Most certainly, Mr. Potter." She said with a tight lipped smile.
"Well I'm curious as to whether or not Professor Dumbledore shared the prophecy with you," Harry said, and judging by her reaction already knew that the answer was no. "Well then, let's get to it. You're a member of the order after all, and have no affiliations with Death eaters, well, with Snape gone now anyway."
At that very moment, Harry noticed something in the corner. The painting of Professor Dumbledore stirred. It was obvious now that the hushed conversation that he had overheard was an argument of sorts between the headmistress and former headmaster.
"Harry, my boy, I must protest. You must not reveal the knowledge that you hold."
"With all due respect, Headmaster... Oops, sorry, you no longer are acting in the capacity. Albus, she deserves to know the prophecy, and frankly since you're awake now, you can help answer some of these questions, as well. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, born as the seventh month dies, born to those that have thrice defied him, and the Dark Lord shall mark him as an equal but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not, and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, born as the seventh month dies. Headmistress, this was revealed to me after we returned from the Department of Mysteries a year ago, however Albus here has known of this so called prophecy for nearly eighteen years. Since before I was born. This was also the reason while he hired Professor Trelawney in the first place. Sure she gives a real hum-dinger of a prophecy every once in a while, but for the most part, I doubt that she has any real divination experience whatsoever. That and she always carries the lingering scent of Sherry."
"Albus, I believe you have some explaining to do."
"I will do nothing of the sort."
"Headmistress, if I may continue?" Harry asked patiently.
"Of course, Mr. Potter." Minerva said, slightly shaken by what the boy had said so far.
"Well, then you have the whole sending me off to live with the Muggles. My relatives, which by all means are really the worst sort of Muggles I've ever had the misfortune of meeting, and they despise anything whatsoever to do with magic. They sheltered me in a cupboard, which was right underneath the stairs. In fact, my letter inviting me to attend Hogwarts was addressed to Harry Potter, the cupboard under the stairs number four Privett Drive. I have to question, whom addresses these letters as they are to be sent out, and since there were so many of them that had been sent why anyone in the magical community with knowledge of a boy who lived in a cupboard, to not only find that rather odd, but even bother to check up on said boy at all? I however, recognized a few people now and then whom stared rather oddly at some of the few times which I was allowed to roam about Surrey, and still my question which I never asked has gone unanswered."
"Mr. Potter, while I was present at the time that you were left at the Dursleys, I had argued the point with Albus vehemently against sending you there, but as always, he simply said that it was for the greater good."
"Well, Headmistress, my counter point since coming into the wizarding world, is that since October 31st 1980 there had been days to follow where there were parties and celebrations and dancing in the streets even at the downfall and demise of the Dark Lord. Since it was for the greater good, why wasn't I taken to a wizarding family to have a proper upbringing since the Dark Lord was supposedly dead? And, as we know since he wasn't actually dead, but disembodied, if I'm supposed to be the savior of the wizarding world why has my training been so lax. Why have I had one incompetent defense teacher after another? To be bold, why haven't I been in training from the time I could walk and hold a wand to fight in this ongoing war?"
"Harry, you needed a normal childhood..." Albus started but was immediately interrupted.
"I've had anything but that, unless your idea, which would probably be Tom Riddle's idea of a normal childhood, is abuse, neglect and torture!"
"Albus, Mr. Potter raises some very distressing concerns. I believe that you and I will be having further discussions in private in regards to this very matter, Albus, and I can assure you if the answers will not be forthcoming your frame will find its way into that very hearth." She said pointing a shaky hand at the fireplace.
"Headmistress?" Harry asked quietly, before turning and seeing the complete and utter rage that was welling up behind Luna's eyes. He had never seen her mad before and frankly it was a little frightening, especially after she handed him his butt earlier today. Upon looking back a Headmistress McGonagall and acknowledging that he had once again gained her attention. "I do have more questions, but I don't want to get to my school just yet, let's back up. My parents went under the Fidelus charm due to rumors that The Dark Lord would be coming after them due to me. Who cast the Fidelus charm?"
"I did." Albus said angrily.
"FINE!" Harry said, anger pushing from within him to the point where he could hardly see straight. "Why the bloody hell did you send Sirius to Azkaban, when you bloody well knew that he wasn't the secret keeper? Why did you not search for Peter Pettigrew when he obviously was the secret keeper?"
"Harry, Sirius would have been a bad influence for you and then there were the blood protections to consider."
"Bullocks!" Harry screamed now at the top of his lungs. "If I were to consider having a blood test done, I'm almost certain that Petunia Evans Dursley is no relation of mine. She doesn't even look like mum, or me, but then I favor dad. Albus, it's time to give it up. You're dead. You've kicked the bucket, shuffled off this mortal coil, and most assuredly assumed room temperature. There isn't anything else in it for you. You're living your next great adventure. However, while I have done my very best to learn how to protect myself magically, you're constant sending me back with my alleged relatives destroys any physical progress that I have made due to starvation, and frankly I'm at my wits ends about it. I don't know where you dug up that lot of losers whom you decided in your infinite wisdom to dump me off on, but I've had enough."
"Harry my boy..."
"I'm not your boy or your man, not anymore and I doubt I was to begin with. More likely just another pawn on your giant chess board. Speaking of witch, let's talk about first year and the fact that I am more sure than not that the entire ordeal with the Philosopher's Stone was nothing more than one giant test for us. The obstacles that were guarding the stone certainly were not put together with a mindset to keep a fully trained wizard, let alone a dark wizard out when three firsties could get through relatively undamaged. I say relatively because I had to take out a Riddle-possessed Quirrell and barely made it out with my life. Second year, another test, as I'm in the Chamber of Secrets who should come to my aid but Fawkes. Phoenixes tears have healing properties and they are able to carry huge weights on them, however instead of bringing help or even Albus Dumbledore himself, I get, sorry," Harry said looking at the sorting hat that just winked at him if it were possible. "A musty old hat and the Sword of Gryffindor." No aid and I am forced to battle Tom Marvolo Riddle for a third time and win, still relatively untrained because we had that Lockhart fraud."
Harry took a deep breath. He was starting to feel winded but at the same time he knew that he needed to get this off of his chest. Its weight and burden were enough to stifle anyone. Looking at Luna now, he leaned in and gently brushed his lips against hers in a chaste kiss which brought a smile to both of them. Taking another deep breath, he looked back at Minerva McGonagall. He smiled for a moment, before getting his train of thought back.
"Third year. Sirius escapes. Thanks to your revelation, Albus, we know that you knew he was innocent all along, however, I get the only person worth a damn as a defense teacher, one that teaches me successfully how to form a corporeal Patronus Charm. With that charm I was able to fight off, successfully, over one hundred dementors. We make progress, but at the same time, I come across the man whom led the Dick Load or He-whom-should-have-run-down-mummy's-leg to Godric's Hollow and we loose him because of your pet Death Eater without a leash. Before you go on about him being on our side let me point out that I watched him kill you, Albus." Harry said, pausing as if waiting for a retort, and when none came, Harry decided to move on. "Fourth year was the worst. I lost one friend because he was jealous and thought that I went behind his back, putting my name into the goblet of fire. Of course we now know that it was Barty Crouch Jr. whom had done it all along. I never did understand how you could allow a death eater to teach here, with Snape, but Mad-Eye Moody is or was supposed to be you life-long friend Albus. This was the worst, because in losing Ron's friendship for most of the year, I became rather found of Cedric. He was a nice boy that didn't deserve to die like that, however the true champion that he was died defending me and for that I will be eternally grateful. Fourth year and fourth time that I faced Tom Marvolo Riddle and survived, however the biggest disappointment was in how you dismissed my seeing my parents during the Priori Incantatem." Harry lifted his hand that was still intertwined with Luna's, and kissed the back of it. "Luna, I'd like to pace a bit." He said with a small smile, releasing her hand.
"Harry, I'm sure that there is nothing that I can say or do to convince you but you must understand that everything that I did had a purpose and that purpose was to aid you in getting things done right. It was, after all, for the greater good..."
"Shut it, you!" Harry noticed that the things that he had destroyed during the climax of fifth year were still in the office. Headmistress McGonagall had only been using the office as an interim Headmistress capacity. Those items began to levitate without incantation. "FIFTH YEAR WAS YOUR GREATEST OFFENSE."
"NOW SEE HERE!!!" Albus yelled himself, and at that the floating object collided with his canvas, scraping a bit of paint off here any there before clattering to the floor.
"Deloris Umbridge was a worthless excuse for a teacher, and as Headmaster it was up to you to make appointments. Hogwarts is a school for Witchcraft and Wizardry and a privately own and run school at that. You weren't acting with the schools; nor the students, best interest whatsoever. You allowed that squatty toad to torture me by doing nothing at all, and what's more, you allowed Severus Snape to mind rape my under the guise of remedial potions. You allowed a death eater, pet as he were, to repeated rummage in my mind, and make the visions provided by his Dick Load to lead me to the Department of Mysteries where I had a front row seat in watching him fly stunned through the Veil and then the idiot attempted to possess me. The only thing that was even somewhat productive was the DA, and at this point, Headmistress, I'd like to request that the DA be formally called the Defense Association and never again referred to as Dumbledore's Army. That sort of vanity led a very manipulative old man to his grave rather the path to being looked upon as this generation's version of Merlin himself. You, Albus, were never omnipotent. There have always been equal and opposite reactions to everything that you do. In fact, if I were to hazard a guess, you've ensured that Tom Riddle and I have mirrored pasts. Would it be too far of a stretch to assume that had you suggested it that Headmaster Dippet would have allowed Tom to stay at the castle in some sort of apprentice relationship?"
"You are indeed correct there, Mr. Potter," Headmistress McGonagall finally said, looking pensively at the image of Albus Dumbledore. She saw Albus clearly wince at the withering look she graced him with. She then turned and faced her favorite Gryffindor, and seeing that he was very visibly upset with the situation. "Harry, may I ask you a question of my own?"
"What brought this on, today? What really brought it all on?"
"After the funeral I had a conversation with Ginny, in which, she made a rather blunt comment. She said that I wouldn't be happy unless I was chasing after Voldemort, which made me rather mad. I confronted her about it an hour later and during that time she revealed to me her use of Amortentia on myself for the past few months, in fact. The obvious repercussion of its use was that the romantic relationship that we were briefly involved in was staged by an obvious fan-girl whom really never took the time to get to know me, nor took my feelings into consideration whatsoever prior to putting her plan into action. She already had a built-up image of who she thought that I was. Then, I began to question a lot more things and wonder why I hadn't questioned them before. I began to question each and every thing." Harry took a deep breath at this point, looking at Luna, "Then a friend came and sat with me, and I realized that I hadn't been the only one to suffer. I had taken this friend on a date prior to the potion, and I hadn't shown her a proper conclusion to that evening, and although some people like to pick on her because she's unusual or unconventional, she's really amazing and likes me for who I am, not what I am. That was a big difference in my eyes, Headmistress. I had questions, and she was willing to listen and attempt to answer the ones that she could. But I needed some answers from other sources so I chose to seek you out, and thankfully Albus' portrait came to its senses or alleviated it ruse of feigning sleep. I have some answers, but as each question is answered I find that it leads to more and more questions. The headmaster gave me a load of bull about the power I know that Tom doesn't is Love. I had a crush on Cho, I've been drugged and snogged senseless by Ginny, and while I feel a certain depth of friendship for Ron and Hermione, Neville and Luna, I've never been exposed to any kind of love. I'm not saying this for pity sake, but more stating the obvious. I know about as much about love as Tom Riddle does. So how is this a great power, unless Albus was lying about that power in the hopes that I would go into battle blindly in the hopes that we take each other out in the process. I don't that, as well, however knowing some new answers, as with my parents and the Fidelus, I really am questioning the motivations of my MENTOR." He finished looking at the portrait as he spat out the last word.
He finished pacing the office and came to sit back down next to Luna. He looked her directly in the eye and when they made eye contact he could see the hopeful look in her eye still there, but he had watched her during his rant. He could tell that she had been thinking hard on each point and counterpoint.
"Headmistress, Professor Dumbledore and I spent a great deal of time alone last year discussing key points and milestones in the life of Tom Riddle. One of the things that you need to be aware of is that Tom created approximately six Horcruxes. Do you know what a Horcrux is?" Harry asked.
"I'm afraid I'm at a loss. Care to enlightening me, Mr. Potter?"
A horcruxes is the imbuing of an inanimate object with a severed piece of one's soul through ritual followed by a murder. I'm not sure of the particulars, but in essence he did this six times as a pursuit towards immortality. I was considering at one point not returning to school this year..."
"Harry you have to return it is of the utmost importance that you are here, if not, I'm afraid that our pursuits towards the reopening of the school will be in vain and it will indeed remain closed."
"Headmistress, I am sorry to inform you," Harry started and them paused, giving her a moment to stew in his words."
"Was considering." She said, smiling gently at him.
"Yes, but with what you said earlier about the problems with the school I will be here, however Luna and I will be doing some intensive training and may require to be on the grounds over the summer. In addition, we're going to need to have every member of the order that has been currently watching me in rotation to be on permanent duties guarding myself, Luna, The Weasley's, Neville and Hermione. This isn't up for discussion or debate. Tom will find a way to strike out at me, I know it and I have a feeling he will single out the Department of Mysteries group and all those related to us as high priority targets."
"That makes sense." The Headmistress conceded.
"Also, I think that the same core group needs to be either inducted into the order, or that an order liaison needs to be important to our group as a point of contact for full disclosure as to what is going on with Tom and his Death Eaters. In addition I would prefer Tonks, Mad-Eye or Kingsley on my detail. If we're going to be training this summer it would be highly advantageous to have a trained Auror on the scene."
You make a good point, and the liaison idea bears merit. I think that will definitely being a working idea that even Molly would agree with." The Headmistress said almost happily.
Looking at Miss Lovegood she could see that this relationship between the two of them was something that would soon rival the relationship that she had seen between Harry's parents. Luna was a force in and of her self when tasked with completing a task. While most of the students saw her as flighty, the assignments that she generated were nothing short of brilliant with their theory and attention to detail. Even though she had only just completed her OWLs, Minerva knew that Luna's scores were all O's, just like Miss Granger.
"Miss Lovegood, during this whole time you've remained quite quiet. Could you please tell me you thoughts on the present situation with our Mr. Potter?"
"Well, I think that Harry has been in one test after another. His first test lasted nearly ten years in having to put up with that family he had been forced to put up with at the Headmaster's whim. Second, I believe that this whole thing hasn't really shown much of an effort as a chess match with pawns, bishops, knights, rooks, king and queen, but more a pissing in the wind contest between Albus and Mr. Riddle while we've been staring incredulously with mouths agape wondering what that salty taste is. It's all in bad taste. Harry hadn't deserved any of it. Also, I think that the house system is ridged to such a degree as you have a post labeling system that works well after graduation. Slytherins stick with Slytherin, Gryffindors will tolerate just about anyone with the exception of people from that house. Finally, Harry's spot on in regards to dumbing down the students with no quality as far as defense professors go. Defense against the dark arts always left me with one question, though."
"What's that, Miss Lovegood." The headmistress inquired genuinely curious as to her course of action.
"What ever happened to Offense against the Dark Arts? Where are the truly offensive spells that we can use when dealing with dark wizards? It certainly not taught here. The most that we have here is Stupefy and Reducto, with some mild curses to impend, but nothing to truly stop your attacker. We're at war, you know! The purpose when faced with a force hell bent on war is to kill people and break things. The objective is to win. We're stunning the enemy while the enemy is enervating their comrades and throwing around the Avada Kedavra spell. In circumstances like this the only clear winner in a war fought like this would be the Death Eaters every time, especially if they increase their numbers. We're doomed to fail without an offense, and placing our hopes and prayers and future in the hands of a fifteen month old baby isn't going to work this time. This isn't a formal duel where we slap the offender with a pressed silk glove gingerly across their cheeks, start back to back, walking ten paces and fight with honor. Honor is for the dead. I will honor my mum for the rest of my life, much like Harry will honor his family, but should I come across Bellatrix Lestrange I will fight to win, honor be damned." The whole time Luna showed herself to be a young woman of determination, and when she had finished she had been reasonably certain that she had said everything that she wanted about that, she looked up at the headmistress and said as a side-note. "Once Harry asks and gets permission to court me, we're going to go hunting for Snorkacks. It'll be fun!" Said Luna beaming brightly.
"Mr. Potter, you move pretty fast. I hope that I'm not seeing shades of a Marauder here." Minerva chided.
"Luna was the only honest date that I had ever had. She is kind and truthful, and sees me for me. Plus she's really cute when she smiles like that. I have fun with her, and I wouldn't mind a nice Snorkack hunt."
"Well, if you'll excuse me, I do know that dinner will be served shortly. I will call an order meeting together and will have Tonks get back with you as far as a liaison goes."
"Good evening, then." Harry said, taking Luna's hand within his, again, and made their way out the door.
Luna stopped Harry before entering the Great Hall. She had been fine up until now, but things would be in public. She would be that center stage, with Harry. That wasn't so bad. Death Eaters she could deal with, and had dealt with in the past. Should she and Harry come across Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy along the way, so much the better.
Luna looked at Harry, now. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze, and once again, the stern look on his face was replaced by a warm reassuring one. She leaned up, he leaned down, and their lips came together again, however the kiss was anything but chaste. She opened her mouth to him. At first Harry kissed gently on her bottom lip, before delving beyond the entrance of her mouth and their tongues slowly touched as their mouths sealed to one another. Again it wasn't about lust, but a solemn vow to the honesty of their relationship.
At the crest of the kiss, unfortunately for the two the Great Hall doors opened showing the two of them wound together. The gasps were followed immediately be a shriek which could only be from Ginevra Molly Weasley, which was immediate followed by two words.