A Sixth Year Story: Voldemort's Return brings in the International Confederation and a team from the North American Wizarding Confederation to take control. In this chapter, Harry and Luna find ea...
Saturday, July 20, 1996
Luna directed Harry down to the building where The Quibbler had its offices, and she had Harry follow her up the stairs.
Harry had first been attracted to Cho's flying ability, but had become a bit obsessed about watching her athletic legs, especially when she was flying. Luna's thin legs weren't nearly as attractive, but Harry decided, walking up the stairs a few stairs behind Luna, that her small, tight, currently eye-level butt was more interesting than Cho's legs had ever been.
They went past the paper's offices and on up to the top floor, where Luna's father kept a small flat. "May I get you some water?" Luna asked. It was a warm day, and Luna was a naturally polite and generally considerate person.
"Please." Harry was the same, after all. Harry looked around while Luna was gone. It was a smallish room, fairly narrow, serving as dining room and parlor. The dining area was in the back, as was the kitchen next to it, which Luna had headed into. There were two sets of bookshelves and a cuckoo clock along the walls, and then two easy chairs with a table between them and lamps behind them on the Alley side.
Luna came back with two glasses of water. "What's out there?" Harry asked, referring to the windows, the blinds half down, in the dining area as he took one glass.
"Not much," Luna acknowledged. "There's a small courtyard and then the buildings over on Knockturn. We keep our blinds down at night, and they keep their blinds down all the time." She shrugged. "It's a little cramped here. Just two bedrooms, and the bath is next to the kitchen, although the door's opposite mine. Our cottage isn't that much bigger, but the attic, cellar, and grounds make it feel less confining."
Harry sipped the water, then said, "Are you nervous?" It was clear he was.
"I think so," Luna admitted. "Tell me, Harry, were you trying to ask me . . . on a date in your letters, or just being friendly?"
"Both," Harry admitted.
Luna smiled nervously. "I hadn't noticed at first, but I like you Harry. I . . . you're not, no, of course you're not."
"Not what?" It was unusual to see Luna flustered.
Luna flushed slightly. "Never mind. I know you're not teasing me or having me on."
"Has that happened before?"
Luna shrugged. "People don't seem to like me very much. They like teasing me for some reason." She scrunched up her eyes. "It only hurts when they pretend to be my friends, and then drop me."
Harry knew next to nothing about girls or dating. He did know about being lonely, about being the outsider, about being teased and hurt. He sat his glass down and put his arms around the thin, shaking figure. Luna wrapped his arms around Harry, and cried into his shoulder.
Harry wasn't certain why, but this didn't bother him at all, like Cho's crying had. It didn't make him feel awkward; it made him feel protective.
Harry squeezed a little tighter. "Whatever else happens, I will always be your friend," Harry promised.
And Luna Lovegood, only, lonely child of a caring if somewhat distracted and even befuddled father, cried a little more from happiness and relief.
At the same moment Harry had left Privet Drive that morning, a less pleasant meeting was going on.
"Take the hood and gag off."
The man strapped to the chair spat and moved his jaw a bit, making certain it still worked. He looked around, puzzled, and saw everything was in shadows. He could tell there were people, probably a number of them, but that was all. He wasn't sure what had happened; one moment he had been in a cell, and now he was here. He had no sense of how much time might have passed.
Still, he had always gone by the motto 'when in doubt, bluster'. "Who dares treat me like this! I demand to know who you are, what you're doing, and. . . ." The man's mouth kept moving, but now sound came out. He had been silenced.
". . . bastards." The hex had been lifted. Surprised, the man fell silent
"You are Lucius Malfoy. You are the last prisoner to be judged. You have confessed to multiple murders, assaults, and conspiracies."
"I have done no such things!"
"Look at your chest."
Malfoy noticed for the first time he was naked except for a loin cloth. Something brown was painted across his chest.
"That is what remains of a powerful new truth potion that is absorbed through the skin. It will make you tell your innermost thoughts, even recognizing if you are under a spell, such as the Imperius. You are not now, and have not before been under such a spell. Do you have anything to say before sentence is carried out?"
"Who are you? You have no authority over me! Where's Fudge? Where's Umbridge? Where's. . . ."
"SILENCE! Your information is out of date. The British Ministry has been under receivership for more than two weeks."
'That explains the harsher confinement, and the lack of a rescue,' Malfoy thought, now worried.
"The prisoner, having nothing to say, is condemned."
"WAIT!" Malfoy pleaded, straining against the chains. He felt the pull of a portkey, and the actions of his pushing against the chair pushed him face first onto a metal floor.
"Well, look who's here," Malfoy heard Crabbe say.
Malfoy got up to his knees.
"Where are we?"
"I don't know, but I don't like it," Macnair answered.
Malfoy looked around and saw he was with all the prisoners captured at the Ministry, plus a few other Death Eaters who must have been captured since. They were in an all-metal room, with a single Muggle light bulb set into the ceiling to provide light. There was a metal door set off to the side of one of the walls, and, strangely, what looked like four shower heads.
Suddenly, Malfoy remembered something he had read about how some of Grindelwald's Muggle allies had eliminated people.
"What is it?" Nott demanded.
"Can anyone do a bubblehead charm without a wand?"
"Why?" Marcus Flint demanded.
Malfoy tried casting one on himself, and failed. He tried it on Nott, and failed again. "Hurry, you fools! Try!"
"Why?" Crabbe now asked, but it was too late. Gas poured into the sealed room.
"Problem, Mister Weasley?" Vincent Anadi asked Percy.
"No . . . not really. It just seemed so, abrupt."
"He was questioned for eight hours, although he doesn't remember it," Anadi responded. "Here, this might interest you." He handed Percy the transcript of Malfoy's interrogation, opened to his revealing the plot of using Tom Riddle Jr.s enchanted diary.
Percy's jaw set.
"I am curious, Mister Weasley. Your entire immediate family has been strong in the fight against this Riddle. What made you go against them?"
"I . . . I. . . ." Percy didn't really have an answer he was willing to share.
"Sometimes, we must choose the Higher Good over our family, but that is different than choosing a career over our blood," Anadi said softly. "There are some, many actually, who would like to move you down to the rank of mail clerk." Percy winced. "Do you know why you were given a second chance? Who spoke up for you?"
"Minister Fudge?" Percy asked hopefully.
"You are a very stupid boy. Your father and Albus Dumbledore spoke of saving your career both before and after the take-over meeting. Harry Potter has also expressed hope you might become reconciled to your family, and Tudor Myrddin, Johnson the Dreamwalker, and even Tobias Jones think very highly of young Mister Potter. Your mother spoke to them and to Marie Turgot as well. Minister Fudge merely thanked us for keeping you on. If you do not take advantage of this opportunity to mend your fences, do not expect another. Now, begone from my sight. Come back in an hour, and count the bodies, so you may believe. GO!"
Percy fled the room.
Harry and Luna sat on the floor, leaning against one of the chairs, and leaning against each other. They said very little, they were just happy in each other's company.
Harry looked up at the cuckoo clock and decided they really would have to go soon. He was shocked so much time had passed. "Luna?"
"Do you believe I really do like you?"
"Of course." She frowned. "I can usually tell how people feel about each other, but not how they feel about me."
"Have the Inner Eye do you?" Harry teased.
"Actually, I believe I do," Luna said. "I'd always been told that, but I didn't think so after my first year with Professor Trelawney. Then I realized that while she actually does know a great deal about the subject, she doesn't have as much of the Sight as I do, and I'm sure mine isn't really all that powerful. She is rather unsure of herself, and so goes in for dramatics."
"What's your other class besides Divination? Runes?"
"Harry, I'm a true Ravenclaw, despite the teasing I get from my house mates. I take a full schedule. Muggle Studies as well as Runes."
"Oh. Anyway, Since you believe I like you, and you seem to like me. . . ." Harry found himself at a loss for words.
"I would like to . . . walk with you," Luna said. "I am your friend; I would like to be more."
"You are," Harry assured her. Harry leaned towards her, and they kissed lightly, almost chastely. 'That was wonderful,' Harry thought. 'How could I ever think I had more than a crush on Cho?'
Harry and Luna sat, their foreheads touching, for almost a minute. Finally, Harry said, "I think we need to be going."
"True," Luna agreed.
Harry stood and held out his hand to the surprised girl. With a slightly amazed looked, Luna took Harry's hand, stood, and kissed him on the nose. "You are a very sweet person."
"Thanks," Harry said. Then a thought occurred.
"Why are you frowning?"
"You do know I'm dangerous to know, let alone . . . date?"
Luna smiled. "If you mean I might be in danger because I know you, I've known that since you and Ginny sat with me on the train last September. This is my choice as much as yours. Don't try to protect me, Harry. If our . . . togetherness is to work, it has to be as partners. I'll try to over-look your protectiveness, if you'll overlook my lack of tact."
"Deal," Harry said, going out the door. After Luna locked the door, he gestured her to go down the stairs ahead of him.
"No," Luna said simply, "this time I want to watch your arse."
Harry stared at her. "I didn't . . . how. . . ?"
Luna shrugged. "I heard your breathing change, and it's my only attractive feature, assuming you like taut buttocks instead of overtly feminine ones."
"I never have before," Harry replied, "and you have many attractive features."
"Name one other," Luna asked, curious.
"You have an incredible smile," Harry replied. He took her hands. "You have elegant hands, too, and you don't paint your nails odd colors."
"Sometimes I do, but not too often." Luna smiled. "Then let us walk together, so that people of all persuasions may ogle our wonderful buttocks."
Harry shook his head. Luna was a baffling combination of the wholly innocent and the overly forthright. 'Maybe the two go together,' Harry thought.
They reached the Leaky Cauldron with a few minutes to spare. As Harry searched for Tom to ask which room was reserved for him, he saw a table with several people he knew.
"Ah, Mister Potter. Right on time," Tobias Jones said.
"Luna, this is Tobias Jones, who has been tutoring me this summer along with Remus. This is . . . Miss Tonks, an auror I know, and of course you know Remus Lupin. Mister Jones, Tonks, this is Luna Lovegood."
Tonks gave Harry an 'ok' sigh and a wink, and Luna a polite, "Hi!" Jones merely said, "Pleased to meet you, Miss Lovegood. Lupin, you should probably do the honors, since they all know you."
"Now?" Remus asked.
"Why not? More efficient that way."
Remus shrugged. "Alright." He stood and led Harry and Luna to a back parlor. Ron, Ginny, Hermione, and Neville were already there. Ron and Hermione were sitting next to each other. Hermione was talking to Ginny, while Ron was giving Neville a dirty look. All four looked over when they realized the door was open.
While Ginny, Ron, and Neville were content to say, "Hi, Harry," Hermione sprung out of her chair with the shout of "Harry!" She stopped just in front of Harry, her arms partially lifted to hug him. She had just seen Luna and Harry were holding hands. Hermione's eyes went almost as wide as Luna's.
Harry dropped Luna's hand and pulled Hermione into a hug. Hermione, after she'd gotten over the triple shocks of Harry holding Luna's hand, seeing him in clothes that not only fit but which made him look good, and being the one to hug her instead of her hugging him, returned the hug. "I'm so happy for you!" she whispered joyously in Harry's ear. She kissed Harry's cheek, and to Luna's shock, embraced Luna, told her the same, and kissed her cheek as well.
"Please sit down, everyone," Remus said, amused at the slack-jawed Weasleys and grinning Neville. "You can share your personal news later."
Harry and Luna sat next to each other, and continued holding hands. Ron jumped in his chair a bit when Hermione took his hand as well.
"With the International taking charge of the Ministry, the official policy towards Harry has changed. Harry is receiving special training this summer. At the same time, it is important that he doesn't stray from his relations' house too long or too often. Still, Harry shouldn't be isolated, either. All of your parents or guardians have been contacted, and they have agreed that you may stay at the house Harry is training at for all or part of the summer, if you wish to."
"As you may or may not know, Harry has to stay with the closest blood relative to his mother to have a very old type of blood protection form. That is his aunt. His uncle is very . . . anti-magic in his attitudes, his aunt and cousin are only marginally less so. We have arranged for Harry's uncle to go on a business trip, helping to set up a new subsidiary for his Muggle firm overseas. To our surprise, the Dursleys not only liked the idea, they decided to send Harry's cousin along as well." Remus looked at Harry. "Something about an undesirable friend?"
"One of Dudley's close friends is a heavy pothead, err, marijuana user, and maybe a dealer," Harry explained, in a daze from all the news.
"Ah. In any event, Dudley will be spending the weekends with your uncle, and the week in a training camp for aspiring boxers. Since we're paying for almost everything the company isn't, they were happy for Petunia to stay with you. Ron and Neville may take turns staying with you, if you all wish. Harry will be in training at the guest house from roughly Ten in the morning until Five in the afternoons. You may visit with Harry after supper until Ten at night, then back to the house. If you come along, you will be doing any school work that needs to be done in the mornings before Harry arrives, and then getting tutored in defense. If you're going to follow Harry into dangerous situations, and after five years we know Ron and Hermione will at the least, no matter what we say, you should be better trained."
"I will be with Harry," Luna said simply.
"And so will I!" Ginny declared.
"We won't let him stand alone," Neville said quietly.
"Never have, never will," Ron stated.
Hermione merely nodded, since she was a little teary. That some of Harry's Housemates had doubted him the year before had offended her even more than it had Harry or Ron.
"Good," Remus said. "Obviously, you'll be allowed to practice underage magic, although you should not in front of Harry's aunt except under external threat. You will be staying with or near her at least until Harry's birthday, and perhaps until the end of August."
They all nodded their understanding. Remus turned to Hermione. "Your parents agreed, but want you to spend two weeks in August with them. You may have one person other than Harry come with you for the two weeks, or different ones over for a few days each."
"I understand," Hermione said.
"Can we eat now?" Ron asked.
Remus grinned. "First of all, here are Luna and Ginny's letters for the next year. We'll pick up the books before we go. We'll make a trip for robes and such later in August."
Ginny immediately tore open her letter. "I'M A PREFECT!" Ginny yelled. She jumped on Neville's lap and gave him a kiss, then jumped back up and ran around the room kissing Hermione, Luna, and Harry.
"I'm not," Luna said while Ginny was still hopping up and down from joy.
"Did you want to be?" Harry asked.
"My mother was," Luna said, "but I didn't really expect it. I don't think the students would listen to me."
Ginny and Hermione were still talking about the office of prefect. Ron grimaced. "I wish Dumbledore had made you the prefect, Harry."
"Then how can you become Head Boy?" Harry teased. "Remember, your dream was to be Head Boy and Quidditch Captain."
"If Katie Bell isn't the captain this year, you will be," Ron said. "And you certainly will be next year."
"I don't know the plays, and the keeper can direct traffic better than a seeker or beater can," Harry argued.
"Miss Bell will be the new Head Girl, and will only take it if you and Ron both refuse," Remus said. "Professor McGonagall asked me if you two had a preference, or would be willing to be co-captains."
"You take care of booking the practices and the paperwork, I'll direct the play," Ron said.
Remus cleared his throat, drawing everyone's attention. "There is still one more thing before Ron may eat."
"Our O.W.L. results?" Hermione almost begged.
"Actually, yes," Remus told her. Hermione sat, and was soon threatening to hyperventilate.
"Please be prepared to tell us by Monday which classes you wish to take," Remus said. "Harry already received his, but here's a copy, to make certain he doesn't forget to tell you in detail. Read yours to them, then hand out the others, one at a time, Miss Granger last."
"Why last?" Hermione demanded.
"So you'll hear the others'" Remus teased. Hermione pouted.
"Food will be in in twenty minutes. We'll go shopping at Two."
Remus handed Harry the envelopes and left.