Conversations and confrontations between Harry and McGonagall, Luna and Hermione and new truths revealed.
Harry found himself laying in his bed as the early morning sunrise peaked just over the horizon. So many things had changed just yesterday that he could hardly believe it himself. He had broken up with one girlfriend and found another in Luna Lovegood. He closed his eyes and brought a mental image of her. She was smiling and laughing all while looking at him.
Harry felt his grin form instantly across his face at the very thought of her. Thinking of spending the summer training with her and then, once Tom Riddle was no more, going on adventures in search of strange and unusual creatures regardless if they came across them. The point was being away.
A frown marred his visage now as he recalled the conversation that he had with Headmistress McGonagall. The treachery that Albus Dumbledore was capable of was something that just didn't seem to be real. He had fashioned himself into a grandfather role in Harry's life.
"Mr. Potter, after you left I took both great time and care in my discussion with Albus' portrait, and I'm afraid I am at my wits end. What he intended to do with you makes me wonder if he was really ever on the side of the light of if it was all just some grand scheme of his."
"What do you mean?"
"He has absolutely no remorse for what he had put you through. What's more is the fact that he keeps justifying his actions as being for the greater good."
"And what exactly would be considered the greater good. What was his plan? Did he at least share that with you?" Harry asked feeling as if his hackles were rising as the anger. He felt began to feel like he did when the headmaster had originally told him the prophecy. It was not boding well for Harry, but at this very moment he knew that his immediate asking the questions quick enough was because he really did want to know. He needed to know, and noticing the apologetic look in her eyes was the prelude to what could only be considered news that he really didn't want to hear.
"I'm afraid that after your attack at the Department of Mysteries, when You-Know-Who possessed you for that brief moment, that Albus decided that you would be the perfect sacrifice. In fact he had been thinking that all along, Mr. Potter... Harry, I know this seems grim, but have you considered extended training?" She asked looking him straight in the eye the entire time that she had levied this burden upon him. She noticed the look of resign first that was immediately followed by betrayal, then anger and finally resolve. She was literally amazed at the sheer burden that Harry Potter was willing and able to handle upon his shoulders.
"Luna and I have discussed this in detail. My question, now that that barmy old man is not with us anymore is the Order still functioning and would the Auror members consider helping me?"
"Harry, Alastor would be more than happy to help you with anything that you may need. You may also call on Tonks and Kingsley as well, however I'm afraid that since the two of them are still active Aurors, their help may be rather sparse considering assignments with the DMLE. As for the Order, unfortunately it was Albus that held it together and I'm afraid at the moment the question of leadership, the direction and purpose of the Order are now in question. In reality we didn't do all too much since Tom's rebirth outside of collecting data and reporting it back to Albus."
"Well, I suppose that a meeting with the remaining members will be necessary. Also, because I do not know whom was members outside of those that I saw present at Sirius' house, I think that Veritaserum will be required for all whom wish to continue to be a member. Those who don't wish to take part of that will, of course, not be permitted to remain members and an oath of secrecy from those whom decide to remain members. There will be absolutely no contact or information sharing with anyone outside of the order. Will Mad-eye be keeping a track of me while at number four?" He asked, and seeing the affirmative look in her eye before she even spoke acknowledged that he would be very busy.
Harry stood in the corridor to an empty train compartment. He had mulled quite a few things over in the morning. He realized that the questions that had been plaguing him with the former headmaster plagued him with others as well. A lot of those questions revolved around his two pending friends, Hermione Granger and Ronald Weasley. Hermione's mothering of Harry had, at times, gotten on his nerves. She was a true know it all and when she didn't know the answers she would dive hopefully into tomes of knowledge seeking answers until she found it. She rarely trusted anything that hadn't been previously written down. Her refuge had been between the pages of musty old books. They had been her only friends prior to her arrival at Hogwarts.
Ronald had been his very first friend. When he thought about Ronald Weasley, he began to question the very existence of that friendship. What had they really in common? Ronald often skived off doing homework until the last minute and rarely put for the effort in doing anything outside of Quidditch or chess, and then he thought about it. He thought of the conversation that they had when they first met. Ron had told him there hadn't been a dark lord that hadn't been in Slytherin.
Harry wasn't even sure that Grindelwald was even British, so his chances of being a Slytherin were narrowed down to none-at-all. Why would he mention that out of the blue back then? Why would Hagrid for that matter, which Harry recalled had made a similar inference to Slytherin's being the wrong sort. With the exception of Draco Malfoy and his mute book end bodyguards, he didn't recall having any issues whatsoever with the rest of the house.
Blaise Zabini had been rather nice. He hadn't expected that, but then again he had spent six years segregating him from that entire house, the one that Luna claims is still his by default. He was and is Slytherin; she had said as if it should have been plain to see and that anyone could have really seen it had they taken the time.
His thoughts drifted towards Luna and a slow smile, small at first, began to slowly creep across his face until the boy, whom while still contemplative about a great many things couldn't help but relax at the thought of her. He was in for a very interesting time ahead.
"Feel like some company?" He heard a very familiar voice behind him, and turning around he was shocked to see his girlfriend standing there with a look of concern on her face that only just hinted that she was deep in thought. However, as their eyes connected with one another, her lips turned upward at the corners and lit up her sky blue orbs.
She rushed into the compartment quickly closing and using a locking charm on the door. She whipped around and immediately wrapped her arms around him. Her lips crashed against his, taking charge, she plunged her tongue into his mouth to make exploration for her newly acquired territory. His tongue slowly and gingerly touched hers and as it did she began to withdrawal.
Harry took charge as her tongue very slowly left his mouth. He felt her mouth now open, begging him to taste her, to explore her again today as he did the previous day. Her hands went to his bum, which brought an immediate groan of acceptance. Luna felt the smile on his face, which felt slightly odd while snogging. She pulled back from him until their lips were just lightly touching each other.
Harry sighed softly against her. They finally pulled apart and stood there, doing nothing more than looking at the other. He wanted this not to end. It wasn't a thought that the relationship would end with it but being alone with Luna was at times the most content, the most peaceful, that Harry could ever remember being in his life.
They turned and quickly put up there things. Hedwig was in her cage which Harry made sure was not facing the window. Her head was neatly tucked under her wing, so he made sure to not jostle her too much.
They sat there for roughly ten minutes before there was a knock on the door. Looking up, Harry was surprised to see Blaise and Daphne waiting patiently. He quickly got up, used an Alohomora to release the lock and let them in.
"Mind if we join you?" Blaise asked with a steady voice and an honest expression on his face.
"Come in." He said and quickly took his seat, once again, with Luna. They interlaced there hands and looked at the two Slytherin with earnest expressions.
"You'll never guess what we saw just a couple of compartments up." Daphne said with a smile.
"What's that?" Harry asked almost hesitantly.
"Ronald Weasley was sporting a rather nicely delivered shiner, and your other friend Hermione Granger was holding her bruised hand with a look of complete satisfaction. Apparently, Ronald had decided that his little sister had the right idea with the Amortentia and had been in it together all along." She said satisfied but also with a look of apprehension to her.
"Well Harry did tell them that they would have to make some decisions. It would appear that Ronald and Ginevra were all for making the decisions for others, last year." Luna said, seriously, squeezing Harry's hand reassuring and provided needed support.
"Well, serves him right I s'pose." Harry said, taking in a deep breath. "I'm really beginning to think that I may have made some serious mistakes allowing the tattered old hat to put me in Gryffindor, too many Slytherin there." Harry said with a sly smile.
"Hey, you besmirch the noble house of Slytherin by making implications that the two Weasley's should be there. I take offense."
"But you have to admit that their recent actions don't exactly exude the traditional characteristics of the Gryffindor house." Harry argued.
"However, had it truly been a Slytherin," Blaise countered looking Harry directly in the eye and pausing briefly. "It would have succeeded completely, unless Draco had planned it."
"I'm still unsure as to how he got in there."
"He doesn't have enough friends for Hufflepuff, and he is ambitious, but far from cunning. He works hard on his studies, but overly so, and while he does have the courage to take you on," Daphne now looks at Harry as well, "Deep down he's a coward."
"So, this is all well and good, but where does that leave us?"
"Well, since there's now a vacancy, you could always take up with your true house." Blaise said, hopefully.
"While that would certainly be a change of pace, I think it would be more than a little suspicious and may even take away my edge. Voldemort has continued to underestimate me at each turn. With my luck, I hope to continue that course. Besides it's more cunning to be within the belly of the beast and work from the inside." Harry said looking at his two new friends. "We're going to be training this summer. If you like, we could have group sessions, I'm sure, but I do have to stay with my relatives this last summer." He finished almost dejectedly.
"Are they awful?" Daphne inquired the worry evident in her voice.
"They hate anything that has to do with magic. I don't think that I should have to go into it any more than that. After this summer I don't plan to ever see them again, and I am positive that the feelings are mutual." Harry started to ask something but them paused for a moment. He started again, but then looking at the two of them couldn't bring him to ask.
"Harry's worried about how your family will react, should they learn that you've expressed an interest in alliance against You-Know-Who." Luna said plainly.
"Oh, well Daphne and I've been best friends since we were three years old. Our parents are neutral. They've not taken any sides in this war not because they're dark or waiting anything out or any such nonsense. It really hasn't affected them whatsoever."
At this point Daphne took over. "Our parents work very closely together and often have quite a few Muggle businesses where they are hardly in the magical world whatsoever. They do subscribe to the Daily Prophet and our mum's love the Quibbler whole-heartedly." Looking at Luna she could see the look of skepticism, however she quickly added, "The article with Harry as well as the Arithmancy puzzles and the hunt for the elusive Snorkack keeps them talking non-stop!" She finished with a grin.
Luna was worried at the point that the Quibbler had been mentioned because her father's paper had always been talked about amongst her fellow Ravenclaws as somewhat of a joke. Early on in her schooling as a first and a second year this had really hurt. Cho Chang had hurt her so much with her taunts, in fact, that it had initially caused her to cry herself to sleep so much that, publicly, she almost became a completely different person altogether.
It was at this moment that the normalcy of life usually finds a way to butt its ugly head in and the impending pressure on the young misses bladder screamed to her that you will pay attention to you because if you do not, I will most certainly make this singularly insignificant moment one that will last you for the next one hundred and fifty years and counting. Luna, understanding that moment begged off her companions; albeit briefly, after properly kissing her boyfriend left the compartment in search of the already known presence of the nearest and closest loo.
She made her way into the corridor uninterrupted, and counted herself quite lucky. Unfortunately, for Luna, that is where her luck would end. Upon reaching the fated doorway, upon where she would let loose the dogs of war and cry havoc or and lease pray that it wasn't too bothersome a task she found the fated door read occupied.
She prayed that she had come to the door at the moment that the occupant had come to the realization that the business had been concluded and that their job had been properly done. This hadn't been the case and had been entirely wishful thinking, even though her mind try and begged to tell her that she didn't just hear the door close upon approach. She would meet upon the porcelain embassy and take refuge to deliver said refugees to the amnesty.
The flock of flying turtle-heads remained poised in position to take flight when the most inopportune time that she heard the whimpering coming from behind her obstructed retreat. Someone was upset, she understood. She knew how she felt at this very moment and while not really prepared to play a role of concern, her concern grew larger as the impending release begged, whimpered, itself, that it was time to repent for the dark times were a coming whether she liked it or not.
"Please!" She practically begged at the door, which caused the crying girl from behind the door to immediately fall silent. Luna now new that it was a matter of mere seconds before her body would fail her and her embarrassment would be apparent to all. "I don't mean to be pushy but I must get in there. It's rather a bit of an emergency, and at that her flatulence erupted from deep within. The door opened, but nobody came out and the room beyond was quiet. As she burst into the lavatory compartment she tried to plan modesty, but yet again, she felt the pressure threatening her. Totally resigned to her fate, she paid the other girl no mind whatsoever and dived into the stall.
She had just gotten her panties around her ankles and her buttocks firmed planted on the seat when all hell broke loose from her bowels. The pain that was holding it in was immediately replaced with a pain from express release. She felt the back-lash from the flood released bounce off of the porcelain beneath her and immediately realized to her horror that, not only would she have to take extra time in making sure that she had properly cleaned herself, but that she was still in the lavatory cart with a crying unknown girl.
"I'm so sorry for this. I'm afraid that I couldn't hold it much longer," She managed to work out in an audible sentence which came interspersed between grunts and strains.
"That's quite alright." She heard a very familiar voice reply.
"Hermione?" Luna inquired almost hesitantly, knowing before the acknowledgement of the affirmative.
"Sorry, I didn't think when I ducked in here." She said almost choking on the words as they poured out of her mouth.
Luna didn't know what to think at this moment in time. She had briefly heard both Blaise and Daphne recall what they had witnessed and was becoming more and more curious as to the chain of events that had brought the quite curly-haired girl to this point in grief. She hated herself for this curiosity because it was the most based form of human nature which drove the same girls whom had plagued her daily at her time at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Exiting the stall proved to be her most true Gryffindor moment as she was suffering from total embarrassment. She couldn't believe that she had allowed herself to be so free in her relief. However looking at the she horror that had been completely obvious in Hermione Granger's eyes she knew, now, that there were more pressing circumstances that were presented. The other girl was in pain. She was in pain and she had been her Harry's best friend for five out of the six years that he had attended school at Hogwarts.
"Are you going to be okay?" She had asked before she even thought about it whatsoever. She didn't know if she wanted to know. The girl had always been horrible to her and she knew that had Harry not been involved at all that she really wouldn't have cared at all. However Harry was involved and the fact that he had been friends with both Hermione and Ronald had plagued her automatic response to come in the form of that question.
"I don't know. I honestly don't know what I'm feeling at this point. I know that I am completely and utterly uncertain. Where do I go from here, Luna? What the bloody hell am I going to do? Ron and Ginny had done something that I feel was only for their own self-interest. It was a brilliant attempt in the most juvenile way, really."
"Forgive them," She said and ended simply.
"What?!" Hermione asked, almost incredulously as the mere thought of forgiveness for what had been done in their evil and vile attempt to gain what hadn't been willingly offered to be almost preposterous.
"Your forgiveness for what they have done to, both, you and Harry will be more than to through them off. Ronald and Ginevra both over think their efforts and neither will see forgiveness as something that either of them will attain. Now, before you get all high and mighty, hear me out. I said forgive. I never mentioned forget. Remember, they are thinking; all the time, in fact, and more likely than not will make a mistake."
"You know something, Luna?" She asked, and immediately responded after a brief pause and acknowledgement was met with a nod without verbal acknowledgement for continuance. "You really did belong in Ravenclaw, but you have a Slytherin streak a mile wide." She finally finished, the tears of frustration that had streaked her face were, now, long gone.
"So then, Harry and I are really an ideal match; him, being Slytherin and all."
"Where did you get that?"
"Well it was obvious that the hat had wanted him to be placed there. It almost pleaded."
"Luna, you didn't start Hogwarts until the following year. How could you possibly know that?"
"Outside of the whole school thinking that he was the Heir of Slytherin my first year?" She asked, and not waiting for a conclusion to the argument proceeded, "Harry has been exhibiting signs of being a true Slytherin during the whole time that I have been there. Compact that with the fact that he has divulged to me what his life has been while living with his poor excuse for a family, well, it's really quick obvious, is it not? That was the house that he should have been in except that Draco Malfoy kind of pushed him off of his desire to be ambitious and his lack of friends drew him away from the loyalty of Hufflepuff. His family had driven the drive, pardon the pun, from wanting to exhibit his intelligence; and Hermione never, ever, forget that Harry James Potter is a remarkably intelligent person, and that left him with one place to go. Harry has always had to remain brave. He had to because it was the only thing that he could be. He had everything else driven out of him. He had to be brave enough to be able to face that there was nothing else that anyone could take away from him. In the end, he had been alone all of his life. You're really quite lucky that he had found you and Ronald worthy to be friends with. I have a feeling that had he not found friends, or those that he had deemed worthy to be such that he would have been a very different Boy-Who-Lived. Now," She paused looking at her friend, and she still did count Hermione as a friend because she hadn't really done anything to remove herself from the luxury of being crowned such, "can you tell me that you have been honestly worth of such a moniker this year?"
"Well..." Hermione started but at the same point, while wanting to argue the point found that her ability to argue that point to be absolutely groundless. She didn't have anything to fight in that argument. She found herself be completely, in fact, guilty of being a rather poor friend.
"Hermione, to be frank, and I'm sorry, but you've been a right cunt to him. While I'm not judgmental of this, you will have to make atonement for your actions. I'm not even trying to be cruel about it, but understand that I love him and will always side with him. This may be a flash flood bit of a romance that has happened with him, but at the same point, had that red-headed slag not interfered with where Harry and I might be in a relationship, it wouldn't be so much of a shock. I'm not pulling punches any longer. He's mine, I'm his and I won't make nice about it any longer. You, on the other hand, have a very special place in his heart. I cannot tell you what that is because, frankly, it's rather guarded and the fact that he gave you the opportunity to re-evaluate your position and make a decision rather astounds me. I wouldn't have been so generous given your complete and utter lack of support this year."
"Luna you have to listen to reason, and before you start in on me again, how about having all of the facts before you make presumptions?" Hermione finally interjected. Luna looked at her for a moment before finally resigning to allow the other girl to have her say, acknowledging her to continue with a small short nod of her head. "Harry has been my every reason for anything that I've done. I don't know when Ron and Ginny had hatched their insane plan and you have to know that, while they did what they did, I was nothing more than a victim, like Harry. I didn't have any control and didn't have a means by which to voice any objection. They saw fit to ensure that ability had been taken away from me. I'm left to be this mindless automaton, subject to Ron's will, and that will was to leave Harry alone. It didn't help matters that my jealousy had played a very valid part in how I had distanced myself away from him but at the same point he had always looked towards me as a voice of reason. I know that my reason may have been very badly clouded, but; at the same point, he had chosen not to listen to it. I will admit that I didn't' listen to him, at times, and I probably should have but the being unreasonable was a two-folded street." Hermione, at this point took towards pacing the lavatory compartment. She was like a creature possessed with a mission that knew that if her message had not been conveyed properly that she would not garner a further thought, and that was the furthest thought from her mind. She had to make Luna see her side because without it her friendship, her relationship with Harry would be lost.
"Hermione?" Luna said after a long pause.
"Hmmm?" Hermione said, looking towards the younger girl now, with apprehension in her eyes.
"This really should be something that you should be discussing with your best friend, don't you think?" Luna asked with only the smallest hint of a grin.
The two walked back to Luna and Harry's compartment in utter silence. They had walked past the compartment that Hermione had shared with both Ron and Ginny only stopping long enough for Hermione to gather her belongings in comparative silence.
Upon reaching the compartment, Hermione noticed that Harry wasn't alone. The shocking bit was that he was sharing his compartment with two Slytherins, however when she thought of Blaise Zabini and Daphne Greengrass she had to admit to herself that the two had not been part of the Draco Malfoy crowd whatsoever. They remained a quite pair, but had been an inseparable pair during their tenure at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Bowing her head in resign, she tucked into the compartment and sat down across from Harry. It took Hermione all of two minutes before she spoke as she was running scenarios as to how the conversation would begin. What she didn't expect was that Harry had stood up before she began to speak, reached into his trunk and retrieved a small jar. He walked across the compartment, taking a small cloth, soaking it into the contents of the mysterious jar and taking her hand in his.
She recognized the scent immediately as essence of murlap, the same stuff that she had used on his hand over and over again after his detentions with Professor Umbridge. Slowly her eyes began to water until tears just slowly toppled over her bottom eyelids. He was still the same boy she had come to love as her very best friend, and she had been rather horrible to him. She couldn't rationalize why she had, now. He dressed her wounded hand, and then when he was finished quietly put away the jar and cloth.
"I see that you still hit people without any regard to your own well being." Harry said flatly, which caused Hermione to look up at him with a start. However, upon seeing the very noticeable smile upon his face, relaxed quickly before her own grin began to quickly spread across her face to the point that it was now brightly shining in her eyes.
"I'm sorry about last year, Harry." She said losing a bit of that light as she finally found her voice. She noticed that he was about to wave it off and became firm in her resolve. "Harry, please, I need to do and say this to you so please don't make it less than important for you to her as it is really quite important for me to say." She pleaded.
Harry saw that his friend was suffering. She was even now, still, under the effects of a potion and only through her resolve of rules and justice managed to break free of the mental hold that same potion had on her to get away from Ron. He didn't know why his best mate could do something like this, let alone his sister and resigned that it very well may be a family trait; however this wasn't really the topic at hand. The true topic was Hermione and the fact that he really had stood by her for five out of the six years that they had attended school together. She deserved to at least be heard out.
"I can only assume that you know what happened on the train today by their presence." She said, and remarkably to Harry this was with a complete lack of the Gryffindor malice towards all things Slytherin. Her voice was shaky, but not from strain, only nerves. "He did it to me too. I don't know how long or to what extent. Bloody Hell, Harry." She finally managed to say before taking in a couple of deep breaths.
"Hermione?" Harry said softly but the use of her name had clearly been an unspoken question of her wanting to know that she was okay. This had been demonstrated over the past six years that Harry and Hermione had a sort of silent means of communication to which the others that surrounded them didn't quite understand, with the exception of the twins. She looked up at him, seeing the forgiveness that was present in his eyes but also the pleading for her to be, both, alright and happy with him. Their was also the firm demand that she practice Mad-Eye Moody's constant vigilance at all times.
"Thank you Harry." She finally said, standing up as he did the same and them wrapping him in a hug. This wasn't a hug of desperation as she had given in the past or even on closely resembling one that Molly Weasley was famous for. This was one of a longing. That longing was to have never fought with Harry in the first place. She had her face buried into the nape of his neck and Harry, in kind, doing the same. After a minute or so the broke apart, and took their seats again.
Luna had a very bright smile on her face as his fingers immediately interlaced and she quickly propped her feet across his lap while her head gently rested upon his shoulder.
"You do know that you two are bloody scary!" Blaise said, not being about to hold it back any longer.
"What're you on about Blaise?" Harry asked almost annoyed but still smiling.
"You're condensed version of a silent argument that should have taken at least an hour to sort out handled without so much as a word and completely sorted within a minute. Scary. Understand?" He said with a smile, himself now.
"What can I say?" Harry asked looking back at Hermione who was smiling now, as she reached into her backpack and pulled out a copy of Hogwarts, A History. This, however, seemed to be a version of the book that Harry hadn't seen before and looking at her for a moment, she just met his eye, and recognized the query immediately.
"This was Headmasters copy, not published for students. He left it to me. Headmistress McGonagall gave it to me before we left. Supposedly, this is the unabridged version, and for once I'd like to know the truth." Hermione said as if it garnered no response whatsoever.
The remaining trip back to London remained without question or incident. It was a ride of silent companionship which at times like this the silence amongst friends, both old and new, proved to be something that was needed, now.
Upon arrival at King's Cross, however, the five of them arrived into hustle and bustle of a very chaotic terminal. People were making mad dashes to either gather up their children or the children; they were urgently seeking out the familiarity of a parental figure.
"Wotcher Harry!" Harry heard immediate and spun around to find shocking pink hair, but not the familiar smile that usually accompanied the normally energetic witch.
"There's been an attack in Surrey, Harry. I'm sorry, but you'll not be going to Number Four." She said now, with a look on her face that clearly showed that there was more to be told.