Harry tries to talk to Dumbledore. He also gets a vision.
Not so Lazy Summer Days
Harry and Luna arrived at the Diagon Alley apparition point. Harry had side-along apparated Luna, but it made no difference, he still lost his balance and fell to the ground. Luna helped him up. It was a good thing that the wizard who had tested him for his apparition license didn't take points off for his less than stellar landings.
"That was . . . interesting, Harry. Do you always feel that squeezed when you apparate?'
"Yes. Don't you?"
"Well, not that squeezed."
"Great," he mumbled. "Let's contact Hermione and then stop at Ollivander's." He led the way through the Leaky Cauldron and out into muggle London. He was wearing his pointy wizard's hat pulled low in the front to cover his scar. He also had on a pair of sunglasses. It wasn't much of a disguise, but wizards weren't that bright, either. Superman's alter ego would have totally worked on them. In any case, no one seemed to notice him.
"So, Hermione lives near the Leaky Cauldron?"
"I have no idea, but I doubt it," he said, looking around. "It's not a very nice neighborhood. No, what I want is there!"
"The entrance to the Ministry?"
"No, the Ministry entrance is just designed to look like this. It's a telephone booth." They both squeezed into the phone booth. Harry, having prepared before hand, dropped a pile of muggle coins on the little shelf. Pulling an old piece of parchment out of his pocket he inserted some coins into the machine and dialed the number written on the parchment in Hermione's neat handwriting.
"Hello, may I speak with Hermione, please?"
"One moment . . ."
"Yes. How has your summer been?"
"Not as exciting or controversial as yours. Seems your disappearing act threw the Order for a loop. According to Tonks and Ron, they haven't been doing much except sending people to stake out owl post offices in other countries."
"Wow. There's something seriously wrong with this picture."
"What do you mean?"
"I would think the Order would have more to do than try to find me. I was in no danger. I wrote them every few days. Why weren't they out there fighting Voldemort? Just because he waited a few weeks to attack someone doesn't mean the Order had to wait to do something. Surely they can find out who his supporters are?"
"I don't know, Harry. I'm not part of the Order; I can't defend their actions. Where did you go?"
"Camping in northern Europe; it was great! How about you?"
"We went to Paris for a week. It was too expensive to stay longer, but it was a trip of a lifetime! The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Bastille! It was all history and art! Then we went to Greece for more."
"Sounds wonderful. By the way, when Dumbledore was at the Weasley's yesterday, he said that he was going to put some order members to watch you house in case I showed up. I thought you'd like to know."
"That's . . . interesting. I'm not sure I care to be watched all the time."
"That's how I feel."
"I see, Harry, and I'm sorry I didn't see it before. Maybe we can get together away from prying eyes some time?"
"Sure." They made arrangements for lunch over the weekend; then said their goodbyes.
Harry had positioned the handset so that Luna could listen in on the conversation. She didn't have to keep quiet, but Harry felt if it became known that he was staying at her house that she and her father would at least be bothered by his minders, and at worse be the target of an attack.
They walked back to the Leaky Cauldron and made their way through Diagon Alley to Ollivander's wand shop. He had sent an owl asking to speak with Harry.
"Ah, Lord Potter. I'm afraid I have bad news. The hair you supplied me with, while magically charged, is not accepting the standard spells and runes that allow it become a magical core."
"You put runes on the hair?" Harry asked, incredulously.
"That would be virtually impossible, Lord Potter. The control runes go on the wood of the wand, and the spells tie the core to the wood. This is why I usually use only three types of wand cores, dragon heartstrings, unicorn hair, and phoenix feathers; strength, wisdom, and passion. The spells and runes for them are quite well known, and I am an expert with them, if I say so myself.
"But your hair -- how would you describe the animal? What is its metaphysical quality?"
Harry looked at Luna. "You know more about them than I."
Luna thought for a while. "Gentleness?" she said, hesitantly.
"With those horns? I'm not sure what they need them for, but "crumpled" isn't really the way I'd describe them. They're deadly sharp, even if you miss the point."
"They defend their mates. They mate for life, unlike the other other animals you use for cores. Could it be 'love?'" she asked the old wand maker.
"If that's the case then we need a neutralizing agent to repress the power until I can lock it into the wand. What material would be the opposite of love?"
Luna shook her head. "Classically, love and hate are from the same passion. Apathy would be a better opposite, but there is no apathy material, is there Uncle?" she asked Ollivander.
"There's the magical lotus, but we're talking metaphysics here, not just potions. The lotus is too beautiful to be used for suppressing the hair's strength. Something harsher."
"Poison? Snake poison? Cold blooded reptiles are sometimes called passionless," Harry commented.
"Would have to be a powerful poison. And magical, as your Snorkack hair is very magical."
"He guessed it," Harry said to Luna, sotto voice. "Like from a venomous magical snake?" he asked the wand wright.
"Your mentioning the crumpled horn gave it away," he replied to Harry, also in a quiet tone. At a normal volume, he answered, "Magical snake venom might work, if it didn't destroy the hair."
Luna added, "And, of course, we still don't know if the wand will even be compatible."
"True. But such is the art and science of wand making," Ollivander answered.
"You don't have anything you can use?" Luna asked her great uncle.
"I'll bring something," Harry volunteered.
Ollivander gave him a creepy smile. "I'll be here when you have it, Lord Potter."
Harry and Luna left, and he side-along apparated Luna back to her home. Again, he fell as soon as he emerged from the rubber-tube-like in-between that he traveled through.
"Cobblers! Why does that keep happening to me?" he wondered, as he got up with Luna's help.
:"Maybe it's cosmic retribution for your language?" she offered.
"What are you thinking, Harry?"
It was the next day. Harry was exercising his magic. A snake slithered across the picnic table only to be turned into a turtle before it got to the edge. The turtle was turned into a butterfly, which was turned into a mouse, which was turned into the snake again.
"That's hard," Luna said, complimenting the spell work. "You didn't do anything to stop them from moving around."
He flicked his wand and the snake turned into an earthworm, which he levitated back into the garden.
"I think I killed the first earthworm; I started off going from the butterfly to the turtle, but I missed the first time, and it took off. When I transfigured it, it fell a few decimeters. I changed it back into a worm, and let it go. I hope it's alright."
"It's a worm, Harry. You can't be responsible for every worm."
"Yes, well, it didn't actually volunteer."
"And people call me Loony? But what's bothering you. You've been out here for longer than you usually work out."
"It took me a while to get used to transfiguring the animals on the hoof, so to speak."
"You're avoiding the question. You don't have to answer, you know. But if you don't want to answer, just tell me that."
"I'm thinking I have to talk to Dumbledore. I don't want to, but I have to. If he's the one who's running this war against Voldemort, then I need to work with him. I don't trust him any more, but maybe we can work together."
"Will you be back for lunch? If not, I might go over to the Weasley's and see how they're doing."
"Why don't you go, anyway? That way I don't have to worry about getting back by a certain time, and you can visit as long as you want to."
"Alright, but I want to hear about your adventures this evening."
"It's a date."
"It is? Where are we going?"
"Uh, how about a picture?"
"That sounds wonderful. I've never been to one."
"Me neither. It will be a first for us both."
"Then you better get going. The longer you delay the later you'll be back."
Harry nodded, and walked out of the wards to apparate away.
He appeared outside the gates of Hogwarts. He picked himself off the road leading between the statues of the flying pigs and entered the grounds. He had thought about testing Hermione's oft repeated warning "You can't apparate in Hogwarts," but decided to accept it; this time.
He walked up to the school.
The front door opened to his knock by Filch.
"What do you want?"
"My OWL results. It seems that the headmaster has been stealing my mail."
"It's the summer. Go away."
"Since the headmaster wants to see me, I think that is a bad idea. Why don't you tell him Potter is here to see him?"
"It's the holidays. We finally got rid of all you brats and you still come back!"
"Mr. Filch! What is going on?"
"Hello, Professor Vector. I'm here to get my OWL results since the headmaster has stolen my mail." The gray-haired Arithmancy instructor looked at him crossly.
"I'm sure the Headmaster has better things to do than to steal your mail. Perhaps you should come back when you are less confrontational."
"As he is intercepting my mail, I doubt there would be a better time; maybe I'll look into transferring to a different magical school. Would you have the Headmaster send my OWL results to Miss Granger? I'll contact her for them."
"Mr. Potter, why would the Headmaster have your OWL results? They are sent to you by the Ministry, not the school."
"I do not lie, Professor. The Headmaster is stealing my mail. Tell you what, Professor, have him put an ad in the Prophet -- no, make that the Quibbler -- when he's ready to talk. Goodbye." He turned and headed towards the gates.
Vector watched the student walk away. Maybe the Daily Prophet was right about his state of mind, she wondered to herself.
Harry walked to the gates. Once through, he apparated to the Lovegood's tower. Harry took out one of his birthday translations and started reading about rituals and horcruxes.
Meanwhile, Vector made her way to the Headmaster's office.
"Come in, Valery," Dumbledore called before he could knock. Some day, she vowed, she would know how the Headmaster did that.
"I wish school was in session. I'd love to take some points right now."
"Oh, what has brought this on?"
"Mr. Potter. . . ."
"Harry! He's here? Where is he? Bring him in!"
"No, he left after he accused you of stealing his mail. I told him to come back when he had a better attitude."
"You WHAT? It's vital that I find where he is!"
"Isn't he at his home?"
"No! He ran away before he ever returned there. He's been off to who knows where this summer."
"Did you send him a letter and ask? Why does everything have to be a secret meeting with you? When is the last time a mail owl was intercepted? Moody is rubbing off on you! You're becoming paranoid."
"I can't owl him! I used an ancient spell to reroute his mail and now even I can't mail him! This wasn't supposed to be a problem! Once his mail was checked we could have delivered it by hand if he had just stayed at his relatives! What is it with that boy! He leaves when the Weasleys yell at him! He leaves when you don't believe him! He left rather than let the Dursleys yell at him! What. Is. Wrong. With. Him!"
Vector gaped at him in shock. The headmaster was the delusional one, not the Potter boy, she thought.
"He said you could get in touch with him by placing an advertisement in the Quibbler. And to send his OWL results to Granger, he'll pick it up there."
He looked at him for the first time since he started ranting. "Yes! Yes! That will probably work! We'll double the guard on Granger and catch him when he goes to pick up the mail! Twerpy!"
A house elf appeared. "Go get Mr. Potter's OWL results and his Hogwarts letter. Right away!" The elf nodded and popped out of existence in that room. Less than a minute later it reappeared with two envelopes. Dumbledore said, "Take these to the owlry, and send them to Miss Granger right away. Don't delay! I have to get more guards to watch her."
The elf and Arithancy instructor both left the room, each by their own means.
"Hello, Luna. Are you here for dinner?"
"No, Mr. Weasley. I was here for lunch, but I have to go soon and have dinner with Daddy."
"That's nice. Say hello for me."
"I will, Mr. Weasley."
Luna and Ginny had done some flying and some talking and some listening to the wireless. It had been a lazy day, for the most part. Ginny had boasted about the marriage contract that she was going to get with Harry. Luna raised her eyebrows at that, and Ginny, thinking Luna's surprise was jealousy, had gone into great detail about what her life was going to be like. She brushed aside Luna's question on whether she had spoken with Harry about her plans. Examining her conscience, Luna didn't think it was envy that made her decide that Ginny would not be a good match for Harry. For one thing, Ginny didn't seem to care about /Harry/, only about his fame. At least she didn't seem fixed on his wealth, Luna thought to herself.
She also found out that Dumbledore was setting the whole thing up. She hadn't expected to have so much to tell Harry when she saw him again.
Now she was in the parlor getting ready to go, while Ginny prattled on about dinner, dishes, and degnoming the garden. Her brother came in from some gardening chore.
Certainly he couldn't be degnoming the garden, too, she asked herself. What sort of gnome infestation did they have if it needed it every day?
"Hello, Ronald. How did you do on your OWLs?" she said out loud.
"Fair. I did alright on the core subjects. Even did Acceptable in divination, and got an E in Defense."
"That's very good. Congratulations."
As they were talking, an owl showed up. It dropped two letters off, and left. Mr. Weasley took one, and handed the other to Ginny, with a frown. Luna watched as Ginny's eyes widened in surprise.
"What is it?" she asked the redhead, quietly.
"It's from Neville. He's warning me that his grandmother is contacting my parents about a marriage contract! I might have the Longbottoms and the Potters bidding against each other for me!"
"Just make sure that your future husband really wants you for his wife. That often gets lost in these contracts."
"That's the problem. Neville says right here that he likes me and of all the people his Gran could contract with, I would be the one he most wants as his wife. Poor guy. I don't want to break his heart. But I guess it can't be helped."
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley come into the room, and said, "Ginny, can we talk to you?"
Luna decided it was time to go. "Good bye, Ginny. Bye, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Ronald. Oh, I have a question -- is there any proof that Professor Dumbledore can really negotiate for Harry considering that he's been missing most of the summer?" They just looked at her, and when she was sure that no answer was forthcoming, she floo-ed back to her own house.
She found Harry in the ground floor sitting room with a wand pointed at her. As soon as he saw who it was, he put it away.
"Hello, Luna. Have a good visit?"
"Yes, Harry. Very interesting. Did you know you were in a bidding war with Neville for the hand of Ginny Weasley?"
Harry looked at her. She said a lot of strange things, but this didn't seem like the sort of strange thing she would say.
"Neville wants to marry Ginny?"
"I don't know if "want" is the right word. He wrote her that he'd probably like her as his wife which is about all he can say in situations like these, only ever having gone out with her once. His grandmother is doing the negotiating. Just like Dumbledore is doing it for you."
The birds in the trees outside flew off in terror as Harry verbally expressed his astonishment.
After calming down, they had dinner with Odd. They talked while they ate.
"Do you want to marry Ginny?" Luna asked, offhandedly.
Harry had lived with this girl in close quarters, interacting with her almost exclusively for over a month. He felt he knew her. And he felt that no matter how uninterested she sounded, this was an important topic for her.
"No. We've never talked about much more than Quidditch; and getting around Umbridge, last year. So, while I have nothing against her, I don't know her, and don't want to marry her. Should we become closer over the next year then I can re-evaluate that.
"The question I want to know the answer to is why is Dumbledore doing this behind my back?"
"He's trying to subvert the Wizarding world," Odd explained. "He's already in control of the Wizengamot, head if the International Confederation, and runs the primary center of learning in Britain. In my day, old Slughorn worked very hard to collect contacts with the upcoming movers and shakers of the Wizarding world. But he was a lumberjack's saw to Dumbledore's scalpel. Dumbledore is subtle. He's got all these contacts, and you never know what he's doing with them. He certainly keeps his activities out of the paper. Perhaps we should start a major investigation? Yes, that would be a good thing for the Quibbler to look into."
Harry could see the man's attention leaving the table. He turned to Luna and said, "I have to agree that Dumbledore keeps his own secrets. But one man can't do everything. He has to have people to do the actual work; to put the plans into action. He needs. . . ."
Luna looked at him staring off into the distance, with an expression not unlike her father's. "What?" she asked, concerned.
"Bloody hell! He uses dupes like me! Excuse me, the dinner was delicious, Luna, but I'm not hungry right now."
Harry went outside, sat on the steps near the drawbridge, and conjured a life sized poster of Dumbledore. He started it moving around the back yard. Then he started taking shots at it. That was too easy -- after practicing transfigurations with animals running free, hitting the target that was moving to his pattern didn't have any challenge. He created a stone wall, transfigured it to iron (a difficult transfiguration -- iron was almost as hard as lead to manipulate with magic) and moved the poster in front of it. Then he started using explosive curses against it. The poster was quickly destroyed while the wall was only damaged. He spelled up another poster, and floated it over to the metal wall. Launching a Reducto at it he prepared to make another poster of the headmaster. But the spell missed.
It didn't miss the wall; it missed the poster. At the last minute the picture, which up until that moment hadn't been animated, jumped out of the way, and the stiff cardboard it was on moved with it. Harry wasn't sure what was going on, but cast another explosive curse at the now running picture. Again, he missed. The picture changed directions at the last minute, and his spell flew past it, causing an explosion of dirt and rocks when it hit the ground.
"Don't forget to replace your divots," Luna said, from behind him. He looked and she had her wand and was directing the poster.
"Luna! Aren't you going to get in trouble for underage magic?"
"It's Daddy's wand," she said with a smile, "and he's escaping!" Harry turned back towards the picture of the headmaster, who was now running away. He launched a series of curses. And even though Luna tried to make the picture dodge, there were too many of them, and the poster was shredded by magic.
Harry had a smile on his face as he turned to Luna, took her in his arms and kissed her. How did she always know how to make him feel better?
"Hey," he said, "aren't we supposed to going to the pictures for the very first time?"
"Well, someone asked me to a date like that."
"Then we'd better get ready."
"Where are we going to go?"
"The only picture palace I know of is in Greater Whining. So, if you have no objection, I'll side-along you."
"I'll return Daddy's wand, and let him know where we'll be."
Harry and Luna walked up to the multiplex, looking at the posters on the walls. As they got to the front of the ticket line the teenager behind the counter asked what they wanted to see.
"I'm not sure. What's good?" he asked.
"That one's pretty popular. Just out. I've seen it. It's pretty exciting."
"Two tickets please," Harry said, handing over the Muggle money.
After the movie, a wide eyed Luna and a slightly shell shocked Harry came out of the theater. She clutched his arm.
"It's not real, Luna. You don't have to hold on so tight."
"But it looked so real. Those buildings! All that fire! Those flying machines!"
"The airplanes are real, but the other things weren't. There are no aliens attacking our cities." He glanced at the poster for the picture he had just seen. He now understood what the big thing over the skyscraper was. He read the title: /Independence Day/.
"If there were," Luna said, "I think they would give You-Know-Who some problem, even without magic."
Harry could only agree.
Harry was having a dream. He was on his battleship. After he had written his occlumency book, which set up his mental defenses, he had worked on creating offenses to hurt anyone who tried to attack. The image was entirely up to his imagination. Many wizards and witches used images of castles with armies or dragons guarding them. Some used monster inhabited labyrinths. Harry's image was of the most dangerous thing he had ever seen; it was from an old movie on TV -- a WWII battleship. Something about the huge guns -- his were large enough to crawl inside -- and the many smaller guns in sets of two and three had struck him as the most destructive looking thing he had ever seen. He looked over the ocean from one of the high towers and saw nothing but water.
There was something wrong, though. Somewhere down below there was noise that shouldn't be there. He went through a metal door into the interior of the ship. Here, his imagination failed a bit. His ship was filled with narrow corridors and metal doors with butterfly valves to open and close them, narrow staircases, and not much more. There was no rhyme or reason to its layout, which, he supposed, would be a good thing if someone actually invaded his mind. His feelings led him to a door that looked like all the others, but when he opened it, there was a different sort of hallway beyond.
Somehow, his dream self knew that he should be at the hull of his ship. Theoretically, sea water should be pouring into it right now with this door open. There shouldn't even be a door here! But it was, and beyond was a glowing white tube, large enough for him to walk upright. He entered it and started walking. The door disappeared behind him, and he got the impression that this was more metaphysical movement than physical. He wasn't even sure what that meant.
He came upon the end of the corridor. It stopped at a slime covered door with a simple lift latch. He lifted it, and swung the door open. At his feet, beyond the door was a stinking quagmire of mud, blood, and other things he didn't want to try to name. The immediate surroundings were hazy, but in a strange reversal of the laws of physics, distant objects were clear.
Beyond the dimly seen swamp he was looking at a poorly lit room. It was filling with people in robes and white masks -- Death Eaters! They knelt, facing Harry, even though he was sure they couldn't see him.
"We strike another blow to our enemies. They have used ancient magic to keep Potter safe from us, but this summer he ran away. The magic that protects him at his relatives was not renewed, and they are vulnerable. Bellatrix has the coordinates. Go, kill Potter's relatives. Let the light know we have not forgotten them. Go!" Harry could not see the speaker. He knew he should not leave this corridor. He didn't want to step in the goop out there, anyway.
The black clad mob started leaving the room.
"You! Come here."
One figure approached Harry. It bent down, and the scene shifted to show the figure removing its mask and kissing the hem of a robe.
"You have done well. I want the address of Potter's girlfriend, the mudblood Granger. We will destroy his friends, and then destroy him. He will curse the day he didn't die as an infant!"
"Yes, my lord."
"Go, enjoy the deaths."
Harry didn't recognize the face of the woman looking up from the floor, but a name came anyway -- Edgecomb.
Harry raced back along the corridor and saw the metal door to his battleship. As he passed through it, he woke up.
"Damn him!" He jumped out of bed and threw on some clothes. He paused for a moment, and grabbed his invisibility cloak. He left the room and encountered Luna with a robe thrown over her nightgown.
"Harry? What's going on?"
"Death Eaters are attacking my relatives."
"Let me help you save them."
"Yes, but not by coming. Contact the Weasleys and tell them to get the Order of the Phoenix to my relatives house right away! And then call the aurors, too. We'll see if Scrimgeour is interested in fighting Voldemort."
"Can't I fight with you?"
"Not tonight -- no time. Get help, please. I can't do this alone."
Harry ran down the stairs and out the door, across the drawbridge, and into the woods, where he apparated away.
He arrived down the block from his relatives' house and fell down. He looked around, and didn't see any death eaters, but he pulled on his invisibility cloak anyway. Moving as fast as he could, he made his way towards his house. He went around the house next door, and approached the Dursleys' house from the back yard.
A figure was at the back door, but was looking inside. Harry climbed the fence and stood behind a tree. Aiming carefully, he summoned the Death Eater. With a startled "Hey!" he flew backwards towards Harry. Harry threw a full body bind on him as he was still in the air and the robed figure slammed into the tree. As Harry moved away from the tree, he saw several other Death Eaters appear. They were looking around in different directions. Harry couldn't attack without giving his position away. He thought of something, and decided it couldn't hurt. He cast several explosive hexes at the figures as fast as he could, then disapparated. He barely got away before the return spells went through his former position. He picked himself off the floor of the guest bedroom and quietly made his way towards the top of the stairs. There was laughing and screaming coming from the lower level, and Harry knew that not all of his relatives were dead. He wished he had a second wand, but if wishes were fishes. . . .
He disillusioned himself, shoved his cloak up his shirt in back, and tucked in the shirt so that the invisibility cloak wouldn't interfere with his casting. He then made his way down the stairs. A Death Eater was near the front door, and the laughter ended as he heard talking. He had obviously missed some of the Death Eaters in the back yard, and the rest were now warned.
"Anything out the front? There's at least one out there. Some think it's Potter."
The Death Eater at the door yelled back, "Nothing out front."
Harry, near the bottom of the stairs, whispered "/Petrificus Totalus/" and petrified the guard. He levitated the body, and got behind it. Floating it ahead of him, he got to the parlor and banished it towards some Death Eaters who seemed to notice their companion's strange stance. Harry didn't pay attention, having sent several more explosive hexes around the room while diving towards the bodies on the floor. He grabbed one and disapparated.
Ignoring the screams of his cousin, who ended up under him, he again disapparated, and reappeared in his old room. Aiming a set of hexes at the floor, he blew holes in it. He saw some Death Eaters dodging away. One didn't , though.
That one aimed a wand at Petunia and was about to cast a spell, but Harry was faster. The Death Eater seemed almost contemptuous as she calmly moved out of the way of Harry's hex, and with a voice that gave her identity away, cast "/Avada Kedavra/."
Harry summoned his aunt, and the death curse missed her. Bellatrix Lestrange gave a shriek and started casting spells at the body disappearing through a hole in the ceiling. Harry cast a shield between his aunt and the crazed woman, then summoned his Uncle.
But Lestrange cast the killing curse again, and this time it struck home. It was a large, dead body that came in response to Harry's summons.
Harry noticed other spells flashing through the room below, and Bellatrix had to dodge to avoid being hit. Grabbing his aunt, he apparated to the neighbor's yard and dropped Petunia near Dudley. Mrs. Weasley was near the fat boy trying to help his injuries.
She swung her wand around and said, "Who's there?" as Petunia appeared on the ground.
"Mrs. Dursley! I didn't know you were a witch," was all Harry heard before he returned to his old room. He shot a few Death Eaters through the holes in the floor. The next thing he knew, he was flying into a wall.
He shook his head, and tried to move, but his leg was twisted under him at what he was sure was an odd angle. He was going to try to straighten it out when he heard movement on the stairs. Two Death Eaters were out in the hallway.
"I'm sure I got him," Bellatrix said, to the other.
Harry aimed his wand at the doorway and waited for a shot. He cleared his mind to calm himself and keep the increasing pain he felt from his legs from distracting him. Bellatrix was scanning the room very carefully, while the other Death Eater disappeared towards the other rooms. The other Death Eater returned a moment later.
"Nothing in the other rooms."
"He's invisible, some how. We . . . ."
But whatever Lestrange was going to say was lost because she glanced at her companion, taking her eyes off the room for a moment. Harry silently cast an explosive hex at her from less than two meters.
She might be crazy after fourteen years in Azkaban, but she was still fast. She somehow felt the spell, and jumped out of the way. The other Death Eater didn't have her reflexes and died as his chest exploded.
Harry apparated away.
"Daddy? Are you going out? Now?"
"Yes dear. The presses must roll. If I can find Harry's family's house, I may get a Quibbler exclusive."
"Oh, I was hoping you could help me watch for Harry. If he's hurt, he may try to return here. But he's not keyed to the wards, so he can't apparate in. But if he's really hurt he could go directly to St. Mungo's and someone will need to listen for a floo call from the hospital. And I can't wait at the wards and wait for a floo call at the same time. So, I was hoping you would help."
Odd nodded his head. "Just like your mother -- you prove again and again why you're a Ravenclaw. Tell you what -- I'll floo the paper and have them find someone who can cover the story; then I'll go wait by the road. Unfortunately, we don't know where around the wards he might show up. I'd better patrol." he said, thinking out loud. He made his call to the Quibbler's assistant editor, and went outside to watch and wait.
Luna too, could do nothing but watch and wait. She made tea, and left her post near the fireplace long enough to bring a mug to her father. She was back at the fireplace when it turned green with an incoming floo call.
"Miss Lovegood?" a face appeared in the fire.
She touched her wand to a specific stone on the hearth to accept the incoming call, and answered, "Yes. Who is calling?"
"It is I, Professor Dumbledore. May I come through and talk to you?"
"No, you may not. I'm not allowed to accept guests so late at night."
"Yes, very wise, but perhaps you can make an exception for me?"
"Daddy said no exceptions, especially men."
"Yes, well, then, we'll have to conduct this via the floo. Earlier tonight Harry Potter contacted you?"
"Yes, and I passed on what he said to the Weasleys."
"Did he come in person? Or did he just fire-call you?"
"He was here very briefly. I told the Weasleys what he said. Please I want to free up the fireplace in case he calls. I know he was going to fight the Death Eaters. Did you see him?"
"No, I'm afraid I didn't. No one we've talked to, either Death Eater or not, has seen him. I doubt that he was at the battle."
"Then there's nothing more to say. Good night Professor."
"Wait, Miss Lovegood! Harry has to stop hiding and . . . ."
But Luna had cut him off. She didn't believe that Harry didn't go to his relatives' house. There was no way he wouldn't try to protect even his relatives from the Death Eaters. She refilled her cup of tea and got back to waiting.
She was dozing when the fire flared green again.
"Hullo, Daddy. What are you doing in the fireplace?"
"I'm at St. Mungo's. Harry's been hurt. He'll be alright, but he'll be in here for a few days."
"I'll get dressed and be right there."
"No! The press is here. I'll hang around and make sure he's safe. Meanwhile, before he passed out, he said that there was going to be another attack; next time it will be against Hermione Granger. Can you contact her and let her know?"
"Yes, Daddy! Let me know what's happening when you can."
Luna went to guest bedroom.
"Hello, girl. Could you do Harry and me a favor and take a note to Hermione Granger? I don't know where she lives, but I'm sure can get it to her. Harry always says your the smartest owl he's ever met."
Hedwig barked in agreement. The man who lived here might be an idiot, but at least this young female knew how to treat an owl!
Luna scrawled a note, attached it to Hedwig's leg, and let her go.
Luna took some clothes down to the living room in case she needed to get dressed quickly, and laid down on a couch, so as to be near the fire. She dozed off again.
Harry, meanwhile was desperately trying to clear his mind to hold the pain at bay. The healers had removed the bones from his leg and were regrowing them. The process was extremely painful. The bones wouldn't be ready until the next night. The healers were also monitoring his concussion, and wondering at the fact that a folded up invisibility cloak probably saved his back from more injuries.
The meditation helped some. Skelegro potion just /hurt/. He didn't enjoy his very uncomfortable night.
Meanwhile, Mr. Lovegood spent his time hanging out with the other reporters doing his job. It was harder when you had to actually quote someone, and not write something until you confirmed it. Such a strange concept. But he stayed as close as he could to Harry's room.
Towards morning an auror called the newspaper wizards and witches together and held a briefing. He described the battle at Potter's muggle relatives as an attack by You-Know-Who against Potter. Potter fought them off, along with some parents of his friends from Hogwarts, and others they were able to get a hold of quickly, including the headmaster. One of Potter's muggle relatives was killed, but he rescued the other two. Three Death Eaters were captured, and four were killed in the battle. No, he didn't know if Potter had killed any -- evidence suggests that he was in a first floor room where he attacked and was attacked through the floor. No, he didn't use any unforgivable curses, mostly blasting curses, which could be deduced from the holes in the floor of the room where he was injured. No, his injuries aren't serious. He had numerous contusions and bruises, and a seriously broken leg, but the bone was being re-grown. Aurors are guarding him, so no, there is no chance of a sneak attack on him while he is incapacitated. The auror didn't know anything about Potter's personal or love life (the love life question came from the Witch Weekly magazine's reporter). The auror ended the briefing, refusing any further questions.
Luna came by after dawn, bringing him some food, and discovering that no one was allowed to see Harry. She was told he wouldn't be good company, anyway, as he was in too much pain. Nothing she could say would get her in until Minister Scrimgeour showed up. He looked at her, and asked her name, and told the healer that Luna should be allowed in if Lord Potter permitted it. He then went in to Potter's room.
"Hello, Mr. Potter."
Harry nodded, grimacing in pain.
"Are you up to a few questions?"
"Not really," Harry gasped.
"Will you talk to me after you're up and about. . . . I mean very soon after you're up and about?"
"Yes. Did you get the message about Granger's?"
"Yes, and we have a team ready."
"Thank you. Would have said the earliest attack would be tonight, but after last night's failure, I don't know what Voldemort will do."
"Thank you, Mr. Potter. I'll talk to you later. Oh, a Miss Lovegood is outside trying to get in. You want to see her?"
He went out and Luna came in shortly.
"Hello. You saved your aunt and cousin, I hear."
"Couldn't save Vernon. Petunia will probably never forgive me."
"That's her problem. At least she's alive to not forgive you. Anything I can do for you?"
"Hit me on the head until I'm unconscious."
"Can't do that, sorry. How about I just sit here, hold your hand, and ignore any cursing you do while your leg bone grows."
"That was going to be my second suggestion," he replied with a small smile.
By the next day, the pain had lessened considerably. Luna carefully fed him some soup that a healer brought. He eventually fell asleep. When he woke up, he was still holding Luna's hand.
"You must be very bored," he said.
"That's true. But no more bored than you are. You have been to the school hospital a number of times haven't you?"
They discussed his accident prone life until an auror showed up. Harry recognized the man from the previous summer.
"Hello, Auror Shaklebolt."
"Mr. Potter. May I speak to you alone?"
"No. Miss Lovegood stays."
"I really think we should do this without her."
"I can go, Harry."
"I want you here," he said, holding her hand a little tighter. "What can I do for you auror? I've already said I will speak to the Minister when I'm better."
"Did you really say that you don't want any visitors?"
"Yes. I'm at a disadvantage here, and I don't trust very many people. . . ."
"But surely Dumbledore. . . ."
"I distrust him more than anyone. Was there anything else?"
"How did you know about the attack?"
"I had a vision."
"Why didn't you tell anyone?"
"I did. I told Luna and she contacted the Order."
"Harry, she's not supposed to know about the Order."
"Any further questions, auror?"
"Yes, was the Granger attack part of the vision?"
"Then why didn't you tell anyone about that?"
"What are you talking about, auror? If I didn't tell anyone, how would you know about it? Use your brain!"
"Calm down, Harry," Luna said, not taking her eyes off the tall, bald auror. He was starting to squirm inside from her unblinking scrutiny. He was sure his Occlumency shields were good, but still, he couldn't get over the feeling that she was looking inside him.
"Mr. Potter, Professor Dumbledore would like permission to speak with you."
"I'll speak with him when I'm not in a hospital bed."
"Why do you distrust him so much?"
"He told me things that, if true, mean he should have acted differently. Either he's lying, incompetent, or as dark as Voldemort." He enjoyed the way Shacklebolt flinched when he said that. "Take your pick, but it's one of the three. That's why I distrust him. I'll meet him in a public place after I'm well. He knows how to contact me."
"Be reasonable. . . ."
"That's the problem. I looked at things reasonably, and found that Dumbledore is not trying to help me, and may be trying to do me harm. Please leave, there's nothing official about this."
"Dumbledore asked me. . . ."
"I know. Leave now and I won't bring this up with the Minister."
"I wish you'd reconsider. We don't want to fight you."
"You wouldn't have to if Dumbledore hadn't put me in danger every year I've gone to that school."
"I think you're exaggerating. . . ."
"Yes, every time I try to tell someone in authority what's going on, they accuse me of lying. . . ."
"I didn't say you were lying."
"I don't know another way to interpret "exaggerating." I tell the Headmaster things are bad at my house, and he says my relatives really love me. Well I wasn't lying. They hated me before and they'll hate me even more now. I tell the Weasley's things are bad, and they ignore me, even though they have the bars my uncle used to lock me in. I tell Fudge that Voldemort's back and he smears me in the press. I tell you that I've been in danger every year and you say I'm exaggerating. I'm tired of not being believed. Just go." Harry closed his eyes, and put his head back.
"Potter. . . ."
But a healer came in at that point and, after a request from Harry, escorted the auror out.
"I'm glad that healer showed up. I could see that argument going on all afternoon." Harry looked at Luna who was smiling. "What?"
"The healer didn't just happen to show up. While you were talking, I pulled the call cord."
Harry chuckled and put his head back down and closed his eyes. "Brilliant, Luna. I love you."
Luna actually got a sad look on her face as she watched Harry fall asleep, still holding her hand. She knew it was the potions talking, and not him. She knew he liked her, but she didn't believe he meant what he just said. Despite the previous conversation with the auror, Luna felt he was too out of it -- and the comment said too offhandedly -- to be true. She sighed, and settled in to wait until he woke again.
Dumbledore paced in his office. He couldn't believe what Harry had said to Shacklebolt! If he truly believed all of that, then things were even worse than he had imagined! There might be no hope for the Wizarding world, if Harry wasn't going to cooperate! His worst nightmare seemed to come about. Well, his second worst. He shuddered as he remembered the one about the tentacle monster. . . .
Susan Bones stared at the parchment in front of her in horror. Her worst nightmare was coming true.
Dear Miss Bones,
As acting head of my husband's house, I wish to open negotiation with you for a marriage contract between you and my son. As scion to a noble house, he is required by law to marry a pure blood, and you match that criteria. Please carefully consider this offer. We would hate to have to take this to the Wizengamot to force the issue. As you probably know, I have many friends there whom I can count on agreeing with me on this issue.
Harry sat in his bed reading the letter the healer brought. She said she was surprised at how this was the only get well letter he had received. Harry looked at it, addressed to St. Mungo's Hospital, patient Harry Potter. He recognized the handwriting. Hermione knew his mail was being intercepted, and had figured a way around it.
I'm sorry to hear what happened to your uncle. I realize that you didn't get along with him, but I know you -- you will be blaming yourself. Don't. You did everything you could and were injured doing it. Please don't wallow in guilt.
I am glad you got away for a vacation. Thank you for your letters. They reached us in Greece eventually. I think the post owls you were using weren't supposed to go from England to Greece. One letter even arrived before the previous one, because it was sent by a large owl, while the previous letter was a tiny barn owl. It seemed very proud to have made it all the way across Europe.
Thank you for the warning. According to Luna, who borrowed Hedwig to send us the message, you were going to tell both the Order and the Ministry. We waited two days for someone to contact us, but no one did. Either they didn't believe you, or they decided to use us as bait. Either way made me and my parents very nervous. We've left our house, telling friends that we're on another vacation. I don't want to tell you in this message where we are, although I want to assure you that I have no problem with you knowing. It's just that your mail has gone missing, so I cannot trust that this letter will reach you unread.
I have to ask your forgiveness. A Hogwarts owl dropped off your OWL results, which I've attached. I couldn't help but glance at them. Very well done, Harry! I got all O's except for one E in Defense. I don't believe I didn't mess up Ancient Runes!
If I don't hear from you before, I'll see you on the Hogwarts Express.
PS. Here's the answer to that Arithmancy question you asked. Good luck!
There was a string of digits at the bottom after the post script.
Harry looked at that, puzzled for a moment, and smiled. He then looked at his OWL results.
Harry James Potter has achieved:
Care of Magical Creatures E
Defense Against the Dark Arts O
History of Magic D
He was pleased with his results. He was glad that he wouldn't have Snape any more. He lay back and relaxed.