Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Brother Z20 Reviews
The Final Battle is over. Harry has left Britain, leaving a devastated magical community, a lost Hermione, and a blinded Luna. Hermione becomes Professor McGonagall's apprentice while she cares f...
"I take it you are glaring at Zee," Luna said serenely.
"She is," Z agreed. "If I were easily combustible, I'd be on fire by now."
"Snape could have hurt her," Hermione protested.
"I have numerous trip-wires which would have protected Luna," Z said. "I just took down the most sensitive ones when you told me about the elves."
"Well . . . but. . . ." Hermione shook her head. "Do I even want to get into how you got through the wards? Can you use elf magic?"
"Not as such," Z answered. "However, if you have enough power and the right attitude, one which acknowledges that we do not master magic, we flow along with it, then you might be able to imitate such power. No one with a Dark attitude can do it. Let us leave it at that."
Hermione huffed and crossed her arms.
"Now, I do have two items of news," Z went on. "First, all theoretical work on the eye potion has been both completed and approved."
"That went fast," Hermione said.
"Yes, well, it turns out that fortunately there was no reason why any of the Darker aspects of the ritual had to be included, although the body parts must be, if you'll excuse the term, freshly harvested. The Dark Ceremony itself was well attested through the late Nineteenth Century, and is known to be safe for the user."
"But one of the potions, the one to prepare Luna, has to be taken two days before the rest," Hermione protested. "And the person can't be dead more than twelve hours before that second part starts."
"True," Z answered. "I know it is distasteful, but a young woman is going to be executed Saturday morning whose tissue type is sufficiently close to Luna's. There is nothing we can legally do to stop the execution, and my contacts assured me that she is guilty of whatever her crimes might be. The amount of tissue needed for the first potion is minute, and can be taken without harming her. As I already said, she is also a good tissue match. If you prefer not to have her eyes, then we will have to wait until a Muggle dies in an accident and is kept on life support while we prepare everything, and then hope we can access the eyes being donated." He paused and said, "That could be months, or that could be years."
The two very moral young women were appalled by state-sanctioned execution, but under the circumstances. . . . "I'll support you either way," Hermione told Luna.
"It's probably best to get this done as soon as possible," Luna said quietly.
"It would be, yes," Z agreed. "Also, two healers will be assisting a Squib surgeon, in Switzerland. The rest of the medical team will have their memories modified afterwards if there is a need. The healers also can do some of the same healing magic I can, and we will be going over your spinal cord. So, we three leave next Friday after dinner, although I'm afraid, Luna, that since they will be using a Muggle anesthetic, you'll have to fast Friday night."
"We'll be taking a portkey to Geneva. The operation will begin around noon, Saturday. You will have to spend several days there." He turned to Hermione. "I will arrange an international portkey for you, so that you may spend the time after dinner each day in Geneva."
The two young women embraced their friend. "And just think," Luna said, I was just thinking about asking you to just do my boobies next week."
"I could easily do those tonight," Z answered. "Now, I do have one other bit of news, which will be less welcome."
"Harry?" Luna asked, half hopefully and half in fear.
Z remembered he could not just nod his head to Luna. "Yes. Harry joined a magical monastery some seven weeks after the final battle. I should say that those who complete their novitiate rarely rejoin the outside world."
"Oh, Harry," Hermione said sadly.
"From what I know of those final days, Harry massacred the Death Eaters, and then tore through the Ministry, ruthlessly, and even violently, exposing supporters and even a few Death Eaters there. He did what needed to be done, but his soul was in many ways as damaged and twisted as Snape's by that point. The difference being, of course, that Snape is still in denial and Harry was fully aware of what he had become."
"So Harry will likely never come back?" Luna asked.
"I doubt it," Z said. "I would think it would take him nearly as long to fully find the peace he is looking for as it took to damage him. However, always remember, without the friendship and affection of you two and the Weasleys, he could easily have turned into a colder, much more powerful version of Moody, and with his power, that could been a tragedy not just for Harry, but for the world."
"We were hoping, if Harry did come back but Luna and I stay together, that he could father a child for us," Hermione said.
"Just one, or one each?" Z asked.
"I cannot have a child," Luna said sadly. "They raped me with their wands, and while they were able to restore my vagina and womb, they could not restore my ovaries to the point where I can ovulate." She felt Z hug her more closely.
"I'm so sorry," he said. "I wish I could have done more to have stopped things sooner."
"Now don't sound like Harry," Hermione warned.
The work week passed quickly, and Friday evening saw Luna checked into a private clinic. The next day was the Hufflepuff-Ravenclaw Quidditch game, and few would expect to see 'Miss Granger' at any game not featuring her friends Ron and Harry. Z had never expressed any interest in flying or Quidditch.
The healers and Z spent half an hour on Luna's spine, and another half an hour doing general body work. Their professional opinion, when they examined her the next morning, was that Luna had been restored as well as magic and nature could do so. She could still not beget a child, as her hormonal state was really like a girl in late prepubescence -- not hormonal enough to have her periods, but enough so that there was no need for hormonal replacement therapy.
The next morning, Hermione returned to Hogwarts for a late breakfast, merely to establish her presence -- staff were generally not to leave the castle. She smiled slightly when she saw Snape trip coming into the hall, as Z had reestablished the tripping hex, albeit on every 199th crossing of a threshold.
The operation would start at 11:00 British time, so Hermione left at 10:00, so that she could hold Luna's hand until she was wheeled into the O.R. at 10:45. Z was allowed into the room until Luna was put under.
Hermione blinked when she saw Z come into the waiting room at 11:00. She had of course worn casual Muggle clothes, but this was the first time she had seen Z other than in one of his habits, and not wearing the sandals made from car tires for that matter. He looked like a stranger in denim.
He sat on the small sofa next to Hermione, and she hugged him tightly. "I see you're out of uniform," she teased.
"I didn't want to look like a priest molesting a student," he whispered back as he hugged her.
Hermione looked at him. "Are you under any sort of vows, other than about your training?" she asked.
"Several," Z admitted. "Most are not connected to what you're likely referring to. As I did not take any final vows, however, no, I am not pledged to celibacy. Those would also have connected me to the monasteries, and I knew I might have to use my knowledge and reenter the world, as I knew in my heart that Voldemort was not dead. Druids of my level may still marry, although the next higher level may not."
"So, you are a druid, not a Buddhist or Catholic?"
"I am. Because I started so late -- standard druidical training starts at twelve -- I could never enter the higher mysteries. However, I achieved similar training with the others I studied with."
"Are you going back to one of the monasteries?"
"I might," he conceded. "I stayed because both Harry and I saw Snape as somewhat unfinished business, and Harry could not heal and watch Snape at the same time. I also stayed because I was needed to help restart Hogwarts. Well, Hogwarts' magic is now in balance. After Snape is dealt with, I can think of only two reasons why I might wish to stay in the world, the outside world, I mean."
"And what are they?"
Z hugged Hermione a bit more tightly. "You and Luna, of course."
"In the studies I pursued, while you do meet your emotions and come to understand yourself and your motives very well, such a study also tends to distance yourself from those past emotions. Your emotions tend to become a well-tended garden. Even as I fought and destroyed the dementors, I felt somewhat detached. You can still feel all the same emotions, for good and evil, but you see them as patches of your garden, which need tending or weeding. You and Luna, however, are two springs of purity which have bubbled up in my garden, making the whole garden greener and more beautiful."
"We're hardly pure," Hermione murmured.
"I do not mean sexually," Z reproved. "You both, especially Luna, were touched by Darkness, yet you both are good. Your natures are still Light."
"Especially Luna," Hermione said. "As Harry once said, I can be one vindictive bitch."
"Seeking personal vengeance can make one vindictive," Z agreed. "Best to keep in impersonal."
"So Snape is impersonal to you?"
"Everyone makes mistakes," Z said. "The question is, can you learn from them, and what do you learn from them? However, the first question is always, can you see the errors? Snape does not. Oddly, perhaps one of the few things he did which he can really excuse himself for is the killing of Dumbledore."
"My understanding is that at that point, Dumbledore was going to be killed. Better quickly by Snape than slowly by someone like Greyback."
"That's true, I suppose."
"I agree. Snape himself does not quite look upon it that way. To him, it was merely necessary, so he did it. It established his credentials. So even a crime which can be justified, he does not do so in a moral way. It is merely a case of utility to him, and I do mean, to him. He was determined to come out on the winning side. He discovered quickly after being Marked that Voldemort was not what he appeared to be. And he was quite intelligent enough to move on from there to realize that in the long run, Voldemort could not win. So, even though he preferred the propaganda of Voldemort and the Purebloods over the propaganda of Dumbledore, and certainly more so than the two-faced propaganda of the Ministry, he turned."
"We can see that in how he trained his Snakes in the fifteen or so years he headed Slytherin. Just over half of Voldemort's original followers were Slytherin. Almost two-thirds of his Hogwarts recruits in the 1970s were Slytherins. All but three of the new Hogwarts recruits of the 1990s were Slytherins, and all those Slytherins were under Snape's so-called care and training for at least three years. That is what I came to Hogwarts to prevent occurring again. Either Snape must change, or Snape must go."
"And then you're leaving?"
"And then I was planning to leave."
Hermione thought about that, and then twisted around slightly, cupped Z's face with her right hand, and pulled him into a deep kiss.
The spent the rest of the time waiting for the operation to end cuddled together.
Z walked into dinner right on time. He smiled slightly at McGonagall, Slughorn, Lupin, and Flitwick, who were fully aware of what was happening. Z slid into a seat next to Snape.
"Is there something going on we should know about?" Snape demanded.
"Not particularly, why?" Z asked him, as he loaded his plate up with vegetables, plus a small slice of mutton.
As Z poured himself his usual quarter of a glass of wine, Snape answered in his usual snide voice, "There just seemed to be some tensions which relaxed when you entered, although I see Miss Granger is not gracing us with her presence."
"True," Z commented as he swirled and sniffed the wine. He looked at his glass in surprise and took a small loud slurp. "This is exquisite."
"From my personal cellar," Slughorn called up the table. "Any guesses?"
"H'mmm," Z answered, taking another careful sip.
"I demand to know what is going on!" Snape demanded.
"I am attempting to identify a very lovely wine, which was well chosen to go with this mutton," Z answered. Snape receded, fuming.
"It's a Cabernet-based wine," Z mused. "The layers flavor and the bricking show that it is fairly old, somewhere between twenty and forty years at a guess. It's fairly powerful and rich, perhaps lacking a tad of acidity from being perfectly balanced, and also not with the depth a First Growth Bordeaux in a really great year. So, if it's a First or Second Growth, it's not from a great year. I suppose it could be a lucky pick. . . ."
"It was not," Slughorn stated, defending himself. "I ordered four dozen."
'Well, if he paid for it, it couldn't have been too expensive,' he thought. "Then I would guess it's a Fifth Growth or a really good non-classified growth from 1959 or maybe a level lower from 1961."
"An excellent appraisal," Slughorn applauded. "It's actually a 1959 Domaine l'Ancienne Cure." Z frowned in thought. "That's in Bergerac, not Bordeaux," Slughorn added.
"An excellent wine," Z acknowledged.
"It's pleasant to be able to share with someone who not only enjoys it, as many of our colleagues do, but who has a good understanding of it." Slughorn smiles. "You must be an excellent potions master." Snape nearly growled.
"I am a potions master and a master alchemist, although I do not hold a senior mastery of either," Z answered. "I am a good brewer, but I could not really create a new potion or a new altering alchemical formula."
"Well, you have so many interests, I suppose you can not rise far in all of them," Slughorn acknowledged.
After chewing his broccoli, Z turned to Snape and asked, "Since you aren't burdened with a House, do you plan on going for your Sorcery in Potions? or your senior in Alchemy?"
Snape was about to explode when McGonagall spoke up, "We do have a fund for that, Severus. If you would be interested in either, we should speak of it."
Snape backed down and considered his options. "You're right. I should have gone for the Senior Mastery in Alchemy years ago." With that, the tensions at dinner calmed down.
Z returned to Geneva after dinner. Luna was awake, although her eyes were bandaged. Z had to explain what had happened at dinner.
"Should I go back to the castle?" Hermione asked. Luna griped her hand hard.
"Actually, I think one of us should sleep there tonight. You should join me for Tai Chi as usual in the morning, and then we both come back for the rest of the day," Z answered. He turned slightly to Luna. "If you'd like, I shall spend the night here."
"We talked about that," Luna answered. "While Hermione and I are committed to each other, we are both primarily interested in men. It might be best if it were the same man."
"I would be very honored. We can talk over the Yule holiday," Z answered. "If you both would like to, we can go away to a nice place I have and talk. If we were to consider entering into more than a deep friendship, there are things I would have to reveal to you, under some powerful secrecy spells."
"And that is really necessary?" Hermione asked.
"Yes," Z replied simply. "You both would have to decide if a possible relationship is worth pursuing when I have to ask that of you. If you disagree with that assessment, then a relationship, possibly even a deepening of our friendship, might not work. To tell you the truth, I did not think I would ever be in this position, and I would not be, if it weren't you two. I wouldn't consider revealing my secrets to anyone else. Only Professor McGonagall knows some of them, and she is under such oaths."
"You mean you wouldn't enter into a relationship with anyone else but us, or you wouldn't reveal your secrets to anyone else you were in a relationship with?" Luna asked.
"Oh, the latter," Z answered. He smiled his slight smile. "Tell me, Hermione, how frustrated are you that you can't track me through The Sorcerer's Registry?"
"Somewhat," she acknowledged. She had been surprised to see that all the masteries had been placed in the simple name of Z, all the way back to the summer of 1983, starting with Charms, Defense, and Mental Magics. Unusually, it had not recorded his nationality, previous training, or even year of birth. "Will you at least tell me your birth year?"
"After the oaths," Z answered simply. "So, are you still interested?"
"Yes," she complained, which made Luna giggle slightly. Hermione glanced at a clock, and saw it was almost 9:00, and remembered that the last timed portkey for London was at 9:20. She therefore made her goodbyes, giving Luna a deep kiss, and Z one which did not linger as long.
"You shouldn't tease her so much," Luna said.
"Why not?" Z answered.
"Because seven or eight weeks of foreplay might make her question her judgement when your secrets are revealed," Luna answered. "She is a very passionate woman, much more so than I am."
"True," Z agreed. "You are more loving and compassionate, however."
"Are you truly interested in me, or are you playing along for Hermione's sake?"
"I believe I have been romantically interested in you even longer than Hermione has," Luna answered. "I merely have not expressed direct interest, as I waited to see how she reacted to you. I knew that if I played along as I have, she would sweep me up in her grand design, and therefore I get to enjoy both of you, and she both gets the same and believes she organized us, which pleases her."
"My little Machiavellian," Z teased.
"I understand people very well," Luna retorted. "That's enough to make anyone a bit loony. Now, since Hermione claims you are the best male kisser she has had the pleasure of snogging, please give me my first proper kiss by a male."
"The only male who ever kissed me was Harry, and those were kisses of friendship, or comfort, not passion."
"Tonight," Z said, "you get passion."