Categories > Books > Harry Potter > Luna's Hubby


by Meteoricshipyards 9 reviews

Harry and Luna have an explosive confrontation with a horcrux. And Snape bashing.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: PG - Genres: Romance - Characters: Harry, Luna - Published: 2006-08-15 - Updated: 2006-08-15 - 10134 words - Complete

AN:My thanks to Hermione Green and Kaetti for beta-ing.

Chapter 10 Boom

The first and second years study groups were soon back in business almost every night in the Great Hall. The different houses worked well together. The Ravenclaws were often the first to learn or understand something and taught the others. The Hufflepuffs made sure no one overlooked or left without a chance to learn. The Slytherins (usually Mike Daly and Draco) mostly ran the groups, and offered any shortcuts they saw in learning it. The Gryffindors encouraged everyone.

The teachers (except Snape and Sirius) commented on how well those first two years were doing; the best classes in years. The students themselves commented on how unfair Snape was. The Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs felt the class was unpleasant. The Slytherins and Gryffindors claimed Snape was vindictive. The exception was Neville, who even though he wasn't in Gryffindor any more, was still a personal target of Snape.

It came to a head one day when Neville ended up in the Hospital wing again. The groups sat around complaining.

"It's dangerous," Wayne Hopkins, a second year Hufflepuff said. "He stood behind Neville and distracted him when he was supposed to be counting the number of times he stirred. Just before he got it wrong, Snape moved away. He knew what he was doing, and what was going to happen. We came to learn, not be abused!"

"Has anyone spoken to Snape?" Hermione asked.

"I did. After the first class of first year, when he also let Neville get hurt. He wouldn't listen to me. We've hardly spoken outside of class since. He doesn't want to change."

Padma Patril, second year Ravenclaw, asked, "Is there someone else we can complain to? Have you tried talking to your head of house?"

"I did," Hermione said. "Last year, before I changed houses, I complained because Professor Snape docked me points for being an insufferable know-it-all. . . ."

Draco interrupted with a smile, "Which is obviously unfair, since everyone knows you're a very sufferable know-it-all."

"Thank you, Draco, exactly. But Professor McGonagall said there wasn't anything she could do."

"Then there's only Dumbledore," Padma's Gryffindor twin, Parvati said.

"I don't know," Draco said. "My father thinks he's senile. Hasn't anyone complained to him before?"

No one knew if anyone had complained, So a delegation of eight students, one from each house in each year, were given the task of speaking to the Headmaster. A few days later, as dinner was finishing up, eight students approached the head table. They had been waiting for several days for an evening when the Potions professor wouldn't be around. Harry wasn't sure how, but he was appointed spokesman for the group.

"Professor, we would like to schedule a meeting," Harry said hesitantly.

"Good evening, Mr. Lovegood, students. You all want to schedule a meeting?" Some nodded, some said, "Yes, sir."

"One meeting? Or eight?"

"One, sir. We were discussing a problem and thought that two students from each house, one from the first and one from the second year, should meet with you."

"And this concerns a problem with the school?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well, are you free at the moment?"

"Yes, sir, we are."

"Then let us remove ourselves to my office."

None of the students had been in the Headmaster's office before. Heads were swiveling everywhere, trying to take in all the magical contraptions, the enormous red bird, the mysterious books on the shelves, and the mess on the great desk.

"Lemon drop, anybody?" John Tunny accepted one, but no one else did. "Now then, what is all this about?"

Half the students glanced at Harry. He sighed inwardly, and began, "Sir, we're here to complain about the unfair, and dangerous, bias of the head of Slytherin house to the students of the other houses."

Dumbledore glanced at the group. Diana Palmer and Draco Malfoy were in agreement. He couldn't brush this off as just another inter-house bit of rivalry. "Dangerous?"

Draco spoke up, "Yes, sir. On at least two occations he caused, or allowed Neville Longbottom to be hurt." Draco described his first potions class, and meeting with Snape. Wayne Hopkins spoke about what he saw on the more recent accident. Everyone spoke of other incidents, both in class and out.

Dumbledore was not smiling when they were done. "Thank you all for bringing this to my attention. I will speak with Professor Snape and see what can be done to rectify this situation."

"Thank you, sir."

- - -


"Yes, Harry, what can I do for you? You haven't read all the transfiguration material I found for you, have you?"

"No, this is something different. I have a bet with someone about who can learn the most fire spells, and I was wondering if you could help me."

"A bet, huh? What are the stakes?"

Harry mumbled something.

"What's that?"

He answered almost too softly for Sirius to hear, "A kiss." He also turned red.

"And you want to win this kiss?" Harry gave a nod.

"Alright! Sure I'll help you. I'm sure that you can get the standard ones, ignite, accelerate, shape, move, extinguish, and the like from the standard books of spells. Hmmm, how's your Latin? Good, then in the library is the /Tome of Vulcan/, which is all about fire magic. However, I don't want to catch you creating a flame-whip or anything else that will hurt someone! I'll have you in detention so long your children will be done here before you are! And that would be nice compared with what some of the other teachers would do!

"Oh, and good luck with your bet! Just like James. Perhaps a little earlier than James. . . ."

- - -

"You know," Draco said to the combined study groups, "I do believe that the Headmaster has talked to Snape."

Harry looked at the pile of Potions books that they needed for their assignment and agreed, "I think so."

"I wonder if he meant us when he spoke about a 'small group of students spreading vicious lies?'" Hermione asked.

"As first and second years, we are smaller than most of the rest of the students, so I think he did," Luna responded.

"From what I could count from the dinner conversation, he took over fifty points from Ravenclaw today," Liz said.

"At least a hundred from Gryffindor," Ron Weasley added.

"Don't exaggerate, Ron," Hermione said.

"I'm not! He took twenty-five from each twin for making too much noise in the halls. And took bunches from us in class."

"What is our next move?" Mike asked.

"We have another move?" John replied.

"Of course. There's always someone else over everyone. Even the Minister of Magic will give in to public opinion eventually. Who does Dumbledore report to?"

Ron answered, "Rumor has it he talks to the Minister a lot. But it also says he doesn't always answer the Minister's questions."

"The Board of Governors," Draco said. "My father's on it, which doesn't help us any, but we could contact the other members."

"And what do we tell them?" Mary Shrake, first year Hufflepuff asked.

Mike replied, "What we told Dumbledore. We limit ourselves to eyewitness accounts, and the most unfair point taking. Obviously, the magic in the castle automatically adds and removes points from the hourglasses. But is there some sort of record of who gave or took what points, and for what?"

"I can ask Professor Flitwick," Hermione volunteered.

"And I can ask Professor Sprout," Mary offered.

"Good, I'll start work on the draft letter later, and we'll talk about this more tomorrow and you two can tell us what you found. Now, hand me that potions book; we should get to work on this essay."

- - -

"Professor Flitwick?"

"Yes, Miss Lovegood. What can I do for you?"

"I have a bet with a friend about who can learn the most fire spells. I was wondering if you can help me."

"Fire, huh? There is quite a lot of magic involving fire in the standard books of spells, you know."

"Yes sir, we both know that. I was looking for other spells."

"Let me think. . . . I remember! There is a book in the library, /The Grimoire of Karnath/, that has a large number of fire spells; Baron Karnath was from the northern part of Prussia, if I remember, and liked to be warm. You must be careful, though. Should you be caught, for example, casting a javelin of fire, you will likely get expelled."

"I wouldn't do anything like that, Professor. Thank you!"

- - -

The school did indeed have a magical book that recorded the house points and the reason they were given. The next Saturday, with the permission of Professor Flitwick and under his supervision, a group of students from several houses looked at the book and made extensive notes. If he noticed that all the items read out by Draco and copied by Hermione and Neville were about the head of Slytherin house, he didn't say anything. After a couple of hours of research, they thanked him, and left.

Mike and Hermione were the principal editors, and came up with the final document. They waited a few days until they had a very good turn out for the study groups, and everyone (except Margo Lane, a first year Slytherin) signed it. Hermione used a charm to create copies on some blank parchment she brought for that purpose, and Draco supplied the list of names of the Governors. He had left his father's name off the list. He knew there would be repercussions, but he also knew he had to stick by his friends.

- - -

As Valentine's Day was approaching, Sirius had a meeting with Professors Flitwick, McGonagall, and Sprout. The result was all four were on duty the night of February 14, and wards similar to the ones on the Astronomy Tower were place on the Clock Tower and the Trophy Room. Even with three rooms available for detentions, they had trouble getting all the couples time who requested it. they took turns actually patrolling. They were able to report honestly that no students were caught snogging.

- - -

It was a cold, late February day when Harry and Luna met outside to resolve their bet. They walked down the road, almost to the gates, and cast spell after spell. They ignited wood, and burned it with a variety of colored and shaped flames, and at various speeds. They caused fire to burn without any fuel. They created a wall of flames (briefly) and threw some fireballs down the road. That was the only combat spell they used, as the counter spell was part of the D.A.D.A. 4th year class. They counted up the spells, and Harry lost by two. He paid up with a hug and then a kiss. He thought kisses were alright but nothing special, and he preferred hugs. The most important thing about the exercise was that Luna felt that she could now remove the ward against burning from the book. As it was Saturday, she would remove the wards now, and they would burn it in some fireplace right after lunch.

"Why don't we burn it in the common room?" Harry asked.

"There might be a magical discharge as it's destroyed and the other wards fall. I'd rather not be right there when it happens. I'd rather no one be there when it happens."

They headed back to the castle and retrieved the book from Harry's trunk. They found an empty classroom, and Harry and Luna worked on removing the fireproofing ward. Luna described it as "stubborn." Harry thought the way the dark object seemed to refresh the ward indicated "powerful wizard." He began to get nervous, and pushed his magic when it was his turn to try again.

"I think you did it!" Luna exclaimed. "That was much more powerful, and it seems to be gone!"

Harry panted from the exertion. "Good, because I don't think I can do that again for a while. Come on, lunch has already started." He picked up the book, and they made their way to the Great Hall.

They were indeed late. Most of the students had finished already. There was a stranger sitting at the teacher table next to Dumbledore. The man had white hair and a pale, pointed face. Harry and Luna had barely started eating when Dumbledore and the stranger got up and left the hall. He didn't think about the man again until that evening when Draco told Harry it was his father. Harry at the time was thinking of other things. He nudged Luna, and with a motion of his head, indicated the fireplace in the wall behind the Gryffindor table. Luna gave him a smile and continued eating.

- - -

"Lucius, have a seat. Lemon drop? Then to what do I owe this meeting? Does it have anything to do with the summons I received to appear at the Spring meeting of the Governors?"

Malfoy looked surprised. "I have no idea why you are being summoned. However, that just makes things a little easier for me. I want to know what's going on with this Chamber of Secrets business."


"Nothing? You are being attacked by Slytherin's monster and nothing is being done! This is worse than I thought! How many students will you endanger before you admit that you can't stop this thing!"

"None. No students appear to be in danger. No students have been attacked by any monsters, be they Slytherin's or not."

"Then why are the reports that the Chamber of Secrets was open and the monster attacked someone?"

"I fear the reports you may have heard are exaggerated. Our caretaker Mr. Filch's cat has been petrified. There was also a sign placed on the wall that the Chamber of Secrets had been opened. A short time later the sign was changed to one praising cats. Since then, there has been no incident that leads me to think that this isn't anything except a set of pranks, in somewhat poor taste."

"I still insist that you give a full report of this to the board of Governors! You have a lot to answer for, Dumbledore, if you are endangering our children!"

"I will certainly. . . ."

Due to circumstances beyond his control, the Headmaster never finished that sentence.

- - -

Harry and Luna ate slowly, watching the hall empty out. They put down their forks after the last student left, and got up. They calmly walked around the Gryffindor table, and Harry tossed the diary into the fire. Unlike last time, it started to smoke, and the pages started to char.

"It's catching. Let's go," Luna said.

As they walked out, Harry asked, "Are you sure it's going to be completely destroyed?"

"Yes, I talked to Mum about disenchanting dark objects. I asked if the object itself was dangerous, like a paper with an evil spell on it, what happens to any curses and other spells on it if it were burned. She said that they are destroyed if their object is destroyed." They had reached the Entrance Hall and were heading up the grand staircase. "She was the one that warned me about the spell backlash."

At that point, probably everyone in the castle heard the explosion. "Run away or run towards it?" Luna asked, in a whisper, even though no one else was around.

"'Never run from danger, it only makes you a target,'" Harry quoted from a fantasy novel they had read (and found disappointing). "Also, we better make sure no one entered the hall after we left." They turned around and headed down the stairs. Professor Snape was coming up the steps from the dungeon as Harry and Luna were coming down.

"You! What did you do?"

"We heard an explosion, and came down to see if anyone was hurt," Harry answered.

"Where did it come from?"

"I don't know, just below us, somewhere."

By that time people were coming into the hall from the west, from the stairs to Hufflepuff's cellar, the dungeons (behind Snape) and more were coming down the stairs. Looking around, Harry said, "Unless someone's running from it, it's that way!" He pointed down the corridor towards the Great Hall. Snape hurried that direction, followed by thirty or forty students, lead by Harry and Luna. They opened the door to the Great Hall, and saw the wreckage.

The first thing of note was the missing fireplace. A large hole to the outside had replaced it. The Gryffindor table was broken in half, the two pieces knocked into the Ravenclaw table, which was pushed halfway towards the Slytherin table. Charred pages fluttered in the cold wind blowing in from outside. Many of the windows had been broken, and there was glass all around the Gryffindor side of the hall.

Snape, who had only taken a step or two into the room, turned upon the students. "I don't know who is responsible for this, but you will be found, and you will be punished! Everybody out!"

As the crowd of students tried to reverse the flow, Dumbledore and Malfoy were pushing their way through the throng. They entered the room and Dumbledore closed the door. Harry and Luna slowly made their way to the Ravenclaw tower.

"Good thing we didn't try this in the common room. We might have taken down the whole tower," Harry said. Luna nodded, but seemed thoughtful. "What's the matter?"

"I'm just thinking. I'll tell you when I've thought it through."

Harry knew better than to try to get her to tell him what she was planning. She wouldn't until she was ready.

He changed topics and asked, "What about the one in the Trophy Room? Should we start researching unlocking charms?"

"No. I have a plan that doesn't involve breaking and entering. But we have to wait until Mrs. Norris is better."


"It's an important part of the plan. Trust me."

"I do, but. . . ."

"No 'buts'."

"Yes, Luna."

"Do we have any homework this weekend?"

- - -

Dumbledore, Snape, Malfoy, Flitwick, and McGonagall examined the destruction in the Great Hall.

"What are all these papers, Albus?" asked the transfigurations professor. Most were burned, and what was left were usually little pieces. The ones that weren't charred were covered with writing. They looked as if they had been written on multiple times with different colored ink, and in some cases what seemed different handwriting.

"Dumbledore! I hold you completely responsible for this. What sort of school are you running here?" Malfoy almost looked pleased examining the damage. "You will have a lot to explain to the Governors."

The Headmaster in question was ignoring him, however, and stood with his charms instructor waving their wands around the hole in the wall.

"I would say that this is very curious, Filius. And disturbing."

"I agree, Albus. There is no indication of an explosive spell...." the diminutive man began.

"What do you mean, there was no explosion?" Snape snarled. "What caused all this?"

"Not 'no explosion,'" answered Filius. "Just no explosive spell. The explosion wasn't the goal."

"So someone 'accidentally' blew up the Great Hall," sneered Malfoy.

"So it would seem, Lucius," Dumbledore answered. "So, if they weren't trying to blow up the building, then I think these papers are a clue to what they were trying to destroy."

"Who was trying to destroy what?" asked Snape.

"Whoever threw this book in the fire. I would conjecture that it was a powerful magic item, and someone threw it into the fireplace, whether to destroy it to destroy it, or destroy it to get back at the rightful owner. If, for example, someone had used an extremely powerful Reducto the spell residue would have been detected. What we find is cutting curses, one of which split the Gryffindor table, and dark spell and ward residue. It seems like a very dangerous item was destroyed."

"If the person who destroyed it did not own it, then we may be able to find out from the owner," Minerva said.

"Yes, I will ask tonight at dinner," Dumbledore answered. "But if the owner knew what it was dark, they probably won't come forward."

McGonagall picked something up. "Albus, look at this. There are several bits around. It appears to be the cover. Black leather, if I'm not mistaken."

Malfoy looked startled. "What? Maybe it was blackened by the fire."

McGonagall looked at what she held in her hand, "No, it appears to be black, without burn marks on it. Some sort of notebook I would think, considering that we haven't found anything but handwriting on the papers."

Malfoy seemed upset. "Well, I have better things to do than stand around here all day. Dumbledore, I'll see you at the meeting!"

Snape finished examining the evidence that McGonagall was collecting. "But if it was such a powerful magic item that its destruction caused this," Snape indicated the damaged room, "why wasn't it warded against fire? It was, after all, only paper."

"That is an excellent point, Severus. And we have seen someone, or rather, some two who have the ability to break wards, haven't we Minerva? If they took off the fire ward, and left the rest, it may explain the explosion, at least partially. Now, I believe we should get to work putting the castle back together. Minerva, please repair the windows. Severus, the tables and chairs, please, and Filius, let us try to rebuild this fireplace."

"Fire wards. . . ."

"What did you say, Filius?"

"Oh, just thinking out loud, Albus. I have an idea I'd like to pursue if no one comes forward tonight."

- - -

"May I have your attention, please! As you no doubt know, there was an accident in the Great Hall this afternoon that did some damage. I would appreciate it if the people who caused it would come forward. Also, there was a black leather bound notebook destroyed in the accident. If you are the owner of this notebook, please see me or your head of house after dinner. Thank you. Enjoy your meal."

Liz's eyes became wide with fear when the diary's description was given.

"What did you do?" she whispered to Luna.

Harry sighed. Several people beside Luna had heard the whisper, and now there was a lot of whispering moving out from the beginning. Harry remembered playing "telephone" in school when he still lived with the Dursleys. He heard enough to know that "Liz thinks Loony had something to do with it" had become "Loony did it" as the story traveled up the Gryffindor table. Before long, even Hufflepuffs were looking towards Luna.

"Luna, I think we better tell Dumbledore. It sounds like everyone else knows."

Luna seemed unconcerned. "He already knows it was an accident. Isn't that enough?"

"I still think we should explain it to him."

"What about me?" asked Liz, nervously.

Luna still seemed unconcerned as she calmed her friend, "You don't have to do anything. After all, you didn't have anything to do with it."

John asked Luna, "So you really blew up the Great Hall?"

Everyone around stopped eating and listened for the answer. "It was an accident," Harry said, and the rumors started moving out from their spot on the table again.

"Luna, we might as well get this over with."

"Can't it wait until after desert?"

"No, I think we should do this now. Come on."

Harry got up from the bench, helping Luna up, too. The noise in the hall started dying down. As they made their way to the head table all talking in the hall stopped. Harry felt every eye in the room was on him, as they approached Dumbledore. He wished Sirius was here; he could use a friendly face, but the defense teacher never came to the Great Hall to eat.

"Ah, Mr. Lovegood, and Miss Lovegood. Would I be correct in assuming that you want to talk about this afternoon's excitement?"

"Yes sir."

"Filius, would you join me?" Dumbledore led them through a door near the teachers table to a meeting room off the Great Hall. After everyone was seated, Dumbledore asked them to tell him the whole story.

"We can't do that," Luna answered, as Harry was taking a breath to begin.

Dumbledore's eyebrows lifted, as he said, "And why not?"

"A big part of it we don't know, and part of it is to protect someone who had nothing to do with today, and part of it is private."

"Why don't you tell me what you think you can tell me, and we'll go from there."

"We're sure it has to do with the attack on Mr. Filch's cat, so we had to do something before anyone else was hurt, and once we did, it was too dangerous to leave around, but we never expected it to blow up, but before that we had to figure out how to get past the wards, and once we learned, we did."

Three sets of eyes stared at Luna.

"Mr. Lovegood," Flitwick said, "Would you mind giving your version of what happened?"

"Uh, yes sir. What happened today was that we destroyed a dark object. But it sounds like we failed, if you found the black diary?"

"I think some things are becoming clearer. The diary was destroyed. Was that the object you were trying to destroy?"

"Yes, it was dark, and intelligent, and we think it possessed someone and caused them to attack Mr. Filch's cat. So, after we got it from, uh, the person, we thought it best to destroy it before it possessed anyone else."

"And the explosion?"

"Spell backlash when the object they were cast on was destroyed," Luna answered.

"I see you have done your homework on this at least," Dumbledore said.

"I think the problem was that with dark magic you can't see how much is there. The other kinds are brighter when they're more powerful; but black doesn't get brighter, and it doesn't get blacker."

"That is why I am so disappointed that you didn't go to a teacher. These things can be very dangerous."

The interrogation continued for over an hour. Luna and Harry refused to give Liz' name, avoided any mention of Harry's connection with the object, and were evasive when asked why they didn't take it to a teacher. They did have to explain Luna's mage-sight. That led to a long delay in the main thrust of the conversation, the first as the Charms professor asked Luna numerous questions about her ability. They blamed their interest in wards on Luna's experiences with the temple in Greece. They insisted that they hadn't stolen the diary; rather, the owner had given it up willingly because, although he or she didn't know what they did, they were afraid it was evil. Neither they nor the original owner knew how he or she came by the diary.

In the end, they had to listen to a lecture about the dangers of dark objects, they lost thirty points from Ravenclaw, and they got two weeks of detention. They also had to apologize to McGonagall and Snape (they already apologized to Dumbledore and Flitwick).

As they were about to leave, Dumbledore asked, "Do you have any idea who enchanted the book?"

Harry didn't want to tell, and as he thought of what to say Luna answered without hesitation, "I did open the book to the first page where it said 'T. M. Riddle' but closed it right away, just in case."

Harry could tell that Dumbledore knew the name as his face lost the grandfatherly look it had had up until that point.

"Who is that, sir?" he asked.

"He was a student here about fifty years ago. There was some unpleasantness during his time here."

"What sort of unpleasantness?"

"Nothing to concern yourself with. Now go back to your dorm, I'm sure you have an audience waiting for you."

- - -

Lucius Malfoy paced in his study. How could this happen? He had followed the instructions! He gave the book to a first year. He chose a Muggle-born because he knew the student wasn't supposed to survive. Slytherin's monster should have been ravaging the school for most of the year! But someone had found the book, and destroyed it. He was sure it wasn't Dumbledore nor any of the other teachers in the room. He supposed it could be Black. But if so, why hadn't he said anything when poked his head in the Great Hall? Dumbledore had sent him to monitor the students.

He wasn't sure what the diary was, but he was sure he would be punished if the Master ever returned. He was beginning to have doubts. He was beginning to hope that the Dark Lord never returned.

- - -

Harry and Luna did have an audience. They limited the story to finding a dark object over Christmas break, researching how to get rid of it, and tossing it into the fireplace with unexpected results. They had to repeat the story many times, to various responses.

The Ravenclaws wanted to know what they had to research to destroy it; Harry and Luna did pass along some of their ward knowledge. The Slytherins, for the most part, wanted to know what sort of dark object it was it's powers and abilities were. The Lovegoods protested ignorance of that. The Gryffindors congratulated them on destroying a dark object, except for Percy who insisted that they should have taken it to a teacher right away, and the twins who expressed jealousy because they hadn't thought of blowing a hole in the castle, and now it was too late as it would only be repetitious. The Hufflepuffs picked up on the danger of the object and were thankful that they were protecting the school when they destroyed it.

The detentions were with a number of teachers. For McGonagall, they did lines. For Snape, they cleaned the potions classroom (without magic), which bothered Harry a lot less than Luna.

For Flitwick they had to write lines for a short amount of time, but then had to show the fire spells that they learned for their bet. Harry even showed the fire-whip, which he had only cast once before, just to see if he could do it. The students, in turn, asked about dueling, and the possibility of a real dueling club. Flitwick explained that it was a lot of work for the faculty advisor, because unlike Lockhart's plan, you couldn't have everyone in a single room. But the former duelist was happy that Lockhart hadn't turned everyone off from dueling. Harry told him about the first years who were interested in it.

- - - -

As they were entering the Ravenclaw common room after Flitwick's detention, someone in a group shouted, "I found another!"

Harry walked over to the group and asked, "What did you find?"

Penelope Clearwater, sixth year prefect, answered, "He's the newest Member of the Lockhart club."

"Huh? There's a club for Professor Lockhart?"

"Well, it's an unofficial club. To become a member you have to find a contradiction or provable falsehood in one of his books. Then we send it to the Quibbler, who publishes it, and sends back a certificate."

Harry noticed Luna was smiling. "What?" he asked her.

"I suggested to Daddy that he do that, after their letters to the Prophet didn't get published."

One of the other sixth year students added, "We figure, we had to pay for all these books, we might as well get something useful out of them." Other students in the group nodded.

"Good luck," Harry said, and headed for bed.

- - - -

Sirius just took them into his office to talk to them. He got a lot more of the story then they gave Dumbledore (but the kids still kept Liz' name out of it, as well as Harry's connection to the object). He insisted that they get help if they ever came across another dark object. Harry was going to change the subject or give a vague answer -- he hadn't decided which -- but was surprised when Luna agreed. He reluctantly agreed, too, and got another lecture on the dangers of evil enchantments.

After their detention, Harry asked Luna why she agreed to get help with the dark objects. She wouldn't talk in a public place. Harry glanced up and down the empty hall and looked at Luna quizzically. She led him to an empty classroom and cast a spell in a circle around them.

"What was that?"

"A privacy ward. You didn't think I'd been doing all that research and hadn't learned how to cast a ward, did you? It won't last, though. Only about 10 or 15 minutes."

"Fine. Now, will you tell me why you agreed to get help?"

"If I ever come across another dark object, I'll get your help immediately."


"But Harry, I don't think we can do this alone any more."

"Why not?"

"The last one was paper. We can get past anti-fire and anti-water wards. The locket and the cup won't burn or dissolve in water. I think we should ask Mum."

Harry thought quietly for a few minutes, then answered, "After what happened to the book, I think you're right. When we get home, we get her help to destroy them."

"Thank you, Harry. But we have another problem. The award in the Trophy Room, we can't steal it any more."

"Why not? I thought you had a plan?"

"I did. We would get detention. . . ."

"That part's done."

"Until we get assigned to clean the trophies, like Ron had to do that time, and then I was going to distract Filch by playing with Mrs. Norris, while you hid it. I thought you could levitate it to the top of a case or something, and we would get it later."

"That's a pretty good plan, except for the playing with Mrs. Norris part. Do you think that feline snitch would play?"

"It wouldn't matter; I just have to keep Filch occupied."

"But you said it won't work."

"Yes, because sooner or later someone is going to notice, and when it gets back to the Headmaster he'll remember that T. M. Riddle is associated with us. We can't do it any more."

"So what are we going to do?"

"We have two choices. We can tell someone that it's dark, or we wait and tell Mum about it."

"If we tell Dumbledore, he might find the connection to me. I don't want to do that."

"Good, then we'll leave it alone. It's been there for fifty years, it can sit a little longer."

"Luna, I love you."

"And I love you too, Harry."

- - -

They did get a chance to clean the trophies before their detentions ran out. They discovered a flaw in Luna's plan. She tried to re-arrange the trophies, awards, and metals, but Filch seemed to know where every one was supposed to go. They decided that they probably couldn't just hide Riddle's without Filch realizing it right away.

They also got a letter from Selene with the usual parental disapproval of what they had done. They wrote back that they would explain everything when they saw each other face to face.

- - -

The excitement and rumors of the explosion were soon overshadowed when several members of the board of governors showed up for three days in a row. They sat in on classes, sat with students during meals, and had meetings with teachers. The Lovegoods got to meet Mr. Patil, who had twin daughters in second year, one in Ravenclaw, and one in Gryffindor, both of whom were regular members of the second year study group. He even sat in on the study groups after dinner. When he asked about the letter they had sent about Professor Snape, the rumors of his imminent sacking started spreading throughout the school.

It seemed that Snape heard the rumors, too, because he became as grumpy as he had been after Dumbledore's talk. They worked at his extra long essays ignorant of the order he had received to appear at the board meeting.

Dumbledore, too, was uneasy. He was given no information on the goal of the board members who visited the school except that they were "fact finding." He didn't think his job was in jeopardy, but he was completely in the dark. Even his friends on the board weren't telling him anything.

When the spring meeting did come, held in the meeting room off the Great Hall on the day most students left for Easter Holiday, Dumbledore and Snape sat, ill at ease.

Mrs. Fergison, the chairwoman, started the meeting.

"We will begin with new business. Professor Snape, some complaints have been made about your teaching style. Would you care to say anything before we get into specifics?"

"Potions is a very dangerous class, and I do not allow frivolous behavior. If the students dislike my lack of tolerance of such actions in class, that is too bad. I will accept their dislike if it ensures their safety."

"Well, that's the rub, isn't it? It seems that certain students that everyone agrees you dislike, are prone to be hurt in your class. Please, we've checked the hospital records for the past several years, and certain students repeatedly end up hurt in your class."

"Students with no aptitude for potions! Of course they're the ones who get hurt!"

"That's why we went back so many years. We wanted to find a sample that we could get independent confirmation on their skills, namely OWL and NEWT results. Do you know what they showed?"

"I'm all ears."

"The majority of those students received a grade of Acceptable. Some even received exceeds expectations. One made outstanding and continued on in NEWT Potions until he was, in his words, "hounded out by your unfair treatment." We also interviewed several of his classmates who concurred. Including at least one Slytherin."

Dumbledore tried to intervene, "I have complete confidence in Professor Snape. He has been teaching here for twelve years with very few complaints."

"Really? There was a complaint made in January, wasn't there?"

"Yes, there was," the Headmaster admitted.

"And what was done about it?"

"I spoke to Severus."

"And this did what?"

"I assumed he would stop his unfair treatment of the students."

"Did you check?"

"He's an adult. I don't need to check on him. We discussed the complaint."

"Professor Snape, in what way did you modify your behavior after the discussion with the Headmaster."

"I told him I would give it the consideration it was due, which is none. I am not going to change my teaching methods because some student whines."

"Were you also informed that part of the complaint was the way you gave and deducted points? Did that change after your discussion?"

"No. But I am fighting an uphill battle here. Three quarters of the school thinks that 'Slytherin' mean 'dark wizard' or 'dark witch.' We are discriminated against, insulted, abused. If I didn't favor my house, we would have no chance at all in the house competition."

"Let's address that last bit first. The other three heads of house gave a combined 1673 points since Christmas break. Of that number they each favored their own house by less than thirty points. Only Hufflepuff even reached the 30 point number because Professor Sprout takes a keen interest in her students and rewards them when they show the loyalty and hard work that her house exemplifies. Both Professors Flitwick and McGonagall are less involved with the day to day activities, and give most of their points out in class. How many points did you award to other houses since Christmas, Professor Snape?"

He mumbled something.

"What was that?" asked Dumbledore. Snape just glared at him.

Mrs. Fergison answered, "He said, 'none.' Do you wonder why the other houses hate Slytherin? Do you realize that that's not true?"

Snape looked up. "What?" he exclaimed.

"It seems a group of first and second years that comprise almost three quarters of each of those classes have been meeting regularly in inter-house study groups. They all seem to get along fine, including the Slytherin members."

Lucius Malfoy couldn't contain himself, "What? Slytherins working with the other houses?"

"Yes, Mr. Malfoy. Isn't it wonderful? They are getting along without house rivalry, helping each other. No one thinks the Slytherins are dark wizards in those groups. But back to the matter at hand.

"Professor Snape, you are under notice. If your behavior doesn't change, you will no longer be employed to teach our children. We will re-evaluate you at the end of term and make our decision concerning next year at that time."

"I will not be intimidated!"

"That does seem to be what you like to do, intimidate children. This school is not your playground where you can bully children smaller than you. If you can't act professionally, you will be let go. You may leave."

"Albus. . . ?" Snape began.

"Better go, Severus. I think it's my turn."

And it was. Lucius Malfoy tried to make the case that Dumbledore should go, even using the continued employment of Snape as part of his argument, but most of the rest of the board wasn't giving credence to his arguments. Dumbledore deflected questions about the Chamber of Secrets (if someone had really opened it, wouldn't they have done more than paralyze a cat?), a Parselmouth student (the student in question definitely isn't a Parselmouth, or if she was, so were about sixty other students), and the explosion (much bigger in the retelling than in actuality, why I've heard people say a whole wing of the school was blown up!). In the end, only three people voted with Malfoy to remove Dumbledore. All were known cronies of Malfoy.

- - -

The train ride home for the break was fun. Most of the first years had become friends, and did a lot of moving between compartments as they visited with each other.

When they reached the station, Selene and Larry were there to meet them. A reporter from the Prophet tried to interview the students, but their parents wouldn't let him near them. While their parents tried to hustle them to the public fireplaces to floo home, the reporter called out, "Is it true you blew up the Great Hall?"

Luna, acting quicker than her parents could counter, yelled back, "Don't be ridiculous. No one blew up the Great Hall. But I suppose that's the kind of misinformation the Prophet is getting known to print."

They made it home without another incident.

Once there, they had dinner, and talked about the term so far. It was mostly about classes and classmates, who won the latest Quidditch match, and things like that. Finally, Luna looked at Harry and some sort of communication passed between them. They lost their smiles, and Selene knew that the rest of the conversation would be important.

"Mum? I'm not sure what Dumbledore wrote to you, but here's the real story. We came across a dark object at school, researched how to destroy it, and then did. It was a book, and we removed the ward against fire, and tossed it into a fireplace. When it burned, it blew up, damaging the Great Hall. But that's not the important part.

"We couldn't take it to the teachers because it would mean they might find the connection between Harry and the dark objects."

"What connection?" Selene asked.

Harry sat, looking down, while Luna explained the black lines attached to the spell damage in his forehead, and how that had led her to the book.

Selene, who had seen the lines years before, (and had found nothing in her research) said, "So there may be more dark objects out there attached to the other lines?"

"There are. We found another at the school - it's an award a student received about fifty years ago, the same student who owned the diary. We can't get to it, because it's locked up and behind magical protection in the Trophy Room."

"I remember that place," said Larry. "Had to clean those trophies quite a few times while I was in school. It usually wasn't my fault, though." he added quickly.

Selene said, "That's two of the lines. Do you have any ideas about the others?"

Luna looked at Harry again, and nodded to the stairs. Harry got up, and went upstairs for a moment and came down with the cup and the locket.

"We found this one hidden in a cave near Portsmouth. And this one was hidden in Sirius' house."

Selene and Larry started casting spells. Larry finished first.

"Well, they're dark, alright. What they do, I couldn't tell you, but they're both heavily protected against anything that would hurt them. And I think they're spelled to try and hurt someone back should they get past the protection. I wonder if that wasn't part of what caused the explosion."

Selene added, "Very heavily warded. And with a magic I've never seen. I know you want to keep this secret, but may I show one of these to Mr. Croaker? He's much more experienced than I am with dark objects."

Luna looked at Harry, and he answered slowly, "Alright, but please keep it hidden. These look valuable, and I don't want someone trying to steal them for their value. They're both made out of gold."

Larry picked up the cup. "And this one has the symbol of Helga Hufflepuff. Very interesting. While this one has a snake symbol -- Slytherin? Wonder what the other two are?"

Selene answered, "Two of the others are the award and the book -- nothing founder related there. What was the name on the award?"

"T. M. Riddle."

"I know that name." Larry said, turning pale.

Selene asked, "Who is it?"

"The leading candidate for the real name of V...V...You-Know-Who."

"Voldemort?" asked Harry, and watched Larry cringe. "Does the name Voldemort bother you Luna?"

"No, Voldemort doesn't bother me," she answered, knowing what he was doing.

Unfortunately, so did Selene. "Stop it, both of you. When you find out what his followers did to people who said his name, you might appreciate what sort of world we were living in. Now leave your father alone!"

They discussed details, but a lack of information limited them. They eventually put the objects away, and went to bed.

- - -

"Algie? Do you have a few minutes?"

"Of course, Selene. What can I do for you?"

"What can you tell me about this?"

"Hmmm. Gold cup. Two handles. Badger. Nice. What else is there to this?" He waved his wand, looked puzzled, and waved some more. He looked up sharply. "Where did you get this?"

"My children found it in a cave. I got the impression that it was guarded in some way, but they won't tell me the details."

"They accidentally found this? Hard to believe. This thing is better protected than. . . ." He looked closer, and cast more spells.

Selene asked, "Do you know what that magic is? I've never seen anything like that, and I'd thought I'd seen just about every genre of magic there is."

"I wouldn't expect you to have seen anything like that. That's soul magic. Very rare, very dangerous, very dark. Haven't seen anything like that since Ganeel Isher back in '55. She tried to cheat death by storing part of her soul. . . ."


He looked at her. "This is a horcrux! This holds a piece of someone's soul so they can't really die. Do you have any idea who this belongs to?"

Selene nodded. "We have to keep this quiet, though. This has implications for my family."

Croaker nodded. "I'm an Unspeakable. I can keep a secret."

"Alright. This is probably Voldemort's. And he has several others, too."

Croaker stared at her, in open mouth astonishment. "Hang on, I'll clear my afternoon. This could be big. And this could be dangerous."

"We already know these are. Did you hear about the explosion at Hogwarts?"

"Yes, I saw the Prophet's story. I was going to ask you about it until I saw what happened to Stout when he asked you."

"They didn't get many of the facts right. Wait until you read the next Quibbler. It has a much truer story. The whole issue will be devoted to how sloppy the Prophet's reporting is. I'm not sure the story about the Gulping Plimpies will do much for the Quibbler's credibility, though. But anyway, Harry and Luna discovered another -- horcrux, did you say? -- horcrux at the school, made from a diary. They removed the anti-fire wards and tossed it into a fire. It didn't go with a whimper."

They talked all afternoon. Selene brought out the other horcrux, the golden locket. Croaker discovered something that had been overlooked: Each horcrux was connected to the others. Each horcrux had five black connections. Two were big, and the other three were almost too small to see. They could, once they knew what to look for, see the complete connection between the cup and the locket.

"Then why is Harry connected with these? That's how Luna found them -- she could follow the line from Harry until she found the horcrux." She started to look panicked. "Why is Harry connected to these things?"

"I don't know. I don't much about horcruxes. They're obscure and the knowledge is restricted. I'll need to do some research. I'll talk to you tomorrow, Selene. And don't worry about Harry. If it hasn't hurt him yet, then I don't expect it to hurt him over the next few days."

Selene left, not very comforted.

- - -

"Good morning, Algie."

"Good morning Selene. Let's go into my office."

"What did you find?"

"The Dark Lord Raugost in the 12th century is reported to have destroyed himself when he created a seventh horcrux after one of his others was destroyed. It seems that you can only split your soul so many times before you break it irrevocably. So Voldemort has one more chance, assuming any others weren't destroyed before your children started collecting them."

"Why six? That's not a magical number." Selene pondered.

"Seven pieces of soul -- six in the horcruxes, one in the body.

"But back to what I learned. The horcruxes themselves are easy enough to destroy, just destroy the object. But as your children found out, Voldemort made sure that that was difficult. And potentially deadly to the one who destroys it."

"What about Harry and his connection?"

"I have two theories. One is that Harry is a horcrux."


"I don't think so, either, and it's easy enough to test. We just have to see if there's any soul magic associated with his scar."

"I would swear there isn't."

"Then the other theory, and this is only a theory, because it's never been tested, is that Harry is connected to Voldemort's soul because the Dark Lord was going to use Harry's death as part of the horcrux ritual. But there's no record of anyone wounding someone while trying to kill them as part of creating a horcrux. So we're in uncharted territory here. You see, the creation is a multi-part ceremony: part done before a ritual murder, which I'm guessing Harry was going to be, and part done afterward. He never finished, so that may be why Harry's connected the way he is."

"Assuming this theory is correct, then how do we get Harry disconnected?"

"One way is to destroy all the horcruxes, and kill Voldemort."

"We want that to happen anyway. . . ."

"Other than that, some sort of unbinding ritual. It would still be better with as many of these things destroyed as possible."

"Does You-Know-Who know when we destroy these things?"

"To the best of my knowledge, no. But who knows, really. Usually, when Dark Lords are losing their horcruxes, they are losing, and aren't too interested in letting the world know what's going on. They create horcruxes to avoid having to leave anything to posterity."

They discussed the theory and practice of horcruxes for a while longer. In the end, Selene summed things up.

"We'll destroy the two we have, collect the third from Hogwarts at some point, destroy that, then re-assess the situation. We can either try to find the last one, or perform an unbinding ritual."

"Let me look into a few things. I have a feeling these are going to be hellishly hard to destroy. But I might get us official funding."

"You're kidding!"

"No. After all, keeping the wizarding world safe is part of our mandate."

Selene laughed, "And if it helps our families, so much the better."

- - -

Algie came over to the Meadow and talked with Harry and Luna about their plans. They would keep the objects secret, and destroy them. Algie also checked Harry, and declared that he was not a horcrux. The declaration made more sense to the two first years after he had explained what it was. They were told to leave the award alone, the adults would find some way to get it.

- - -

After they got back to school the students quickly noticed a change in their potions instruction. Snape was as quick as always to remove points, but he was even handed -- the Slytherins found themselves on the receiving end of his ire, too. But the really interesting thing was that he no longer hovered over the students. He stayed in front, observing the whole classroom. And the most amazing thing was that he offered suggestions, or gave further instructions when they seemed called for. He would warn a student if they weren't keeping count on the number of stirs. He would tell one student to show another the proper way to prepare a material if someone was having trouble. He gave points for successful potions, and even gave points (but fewer) for mostly correct potions. If someone did a good job helping another student they would receive some points. If they did a poor job, they would lose some.

Padma and Parvati informed the study groups what took place at the Governors' meeting. Ron thought it was funny, until Lavender Brown, another second year Gryffindor, pointed out that he had still lost a number of points in Potions that very day. And he could no longer blame it on Snape's anti-Gryffindor bias.

- - -

The rest of the school year went quick, and Harry and Luna stayed out of trouble. The fifth and seventh years weren't enjoying their year. As the term was winding down they had a second Defense class added to their schedule. They were woefully behind where they were supposed to be, and Sirius felt the only way they could get good grades on their OWLs and NEWTs was by having extra classes.

The first and second years were glad they weren't under that sort of pressure. Their end-of-term exams were enough.

- - -

Final exams came and went. The day after the last one Harry and a group of first and second year boys were playing wand tag on the lawn. The game was a lot like regular tag, but you didn't touch the person to make them "It", you cast a spell on them. Harry was good at the game, and let himself be "it" more than he had to; he liked practicing casting spells at moving targets.

While they were playing, Algie Croaker interrupted the game. Harry was a little surprised when some of the older students addressed him as "Professor." Neville and Harry left the game to meet him. He was there on business, and was taking the opportunity to say hello to his grand-nephew. Neville and he talked for a few minutes before the old wizard went into the castle.

- - -

"Algie! What a pleasant surprise. Filius told me you wanted to see me? Is there a reason we're not meeting in my office?"

"Hello, Albus. Yes. I would like to get into this case please."

"A trophy case? Why?"

"This is official business, Headmaster. Could you please open this for me?"

"Yes, very well. Here you go."

Croaker waved his wand a few times. Then he started a systematic, magical examination of every object in the case. When he was done he took out Riddle's award for special services to the school.

"Did you know that you had a dark object stored in this case?"

Dumbledore looked shocked. "I never knew!" he exclaimed. "How did you know?"

"You know I can't tell you that, Headmaster."

"Well, can you tell me if there are any more such objects in the school?"

"I can tell you that I don't know of any. However, you may know more of things like the Chamber of Secrets than I."

"May I ask what you are going to do with that?"

"Destroy it, of course. Did you have another suggestion?"

"No. Just making sure."

"I would prefer it if no one knew about this."

"So would I, Algie. Thank you."

- - -

In a decrepit, old mansion in Little Hangleton a spirit grew uneasy. It felt that there was something out there, trying to get it. It was true that it couldn't detect the destruction of the horcrux, but in some subtle way, its destruction had affected the being. It knew it had to get a body back. It was just luck that it had found someone willing to let it into their mind once. Very few people, muggle or magical, would grant that permission, and so it waited. But it felt that it could wait no longer. It would have to journey out and try and find help. It mentally shuddered. That would mean leaving the safety of its lair. Desire for, well, everything, warred with the need for safety. It didn't move.

- - -

"Well, goodbye Minerva. I'll see you in a month or so."

"Where are you off to this time, Albus?"

"Japan! The Land of the Rising Sun! It's a very important country in the Muggle world, and if Harry's still being raised by Muggles it's a good place to start."

McGonagall snorted. Start? This is the fourth summer in a row he'll spend searching for Harry Potter. He'd already looked into the schools in the New World, Australia, and Europe (one forgets just how many small schools there are on the continent).

"If anything comes up, I'll owl you, Albus. Changing the subject, did you find someone to replace Sirius? It's such a shame; he was a good instructor."

"Actually, it was a suggestion from Sirius that got us next year's professor. An expert on dark creatures -- his friend Remus Lupin."

"That should be interesting. He was a good student. Have a safe trip, Albus."

"You have a good summer, too, Minerva."

- - -

The train ride home was a chaotic as the ones around Easter break. Harry had moved around a lot to talk to as many of his friends as possible. Luna stayed in one place with a small group of friends, and they received a lot of visits from people like Harry. As the train was getting close to the station, Harry came back and sat with Luna, Liz, and Hermione. They said their goodbyes as the train came into the station, with promises from Harry and Luna to include their new friends in the summer get-togethers.

There were no reporters at the station this time, and after another round of good byes, Harry and Luna headed home with her parents.

That night, the family sat quietly in the living room, all talked out. Harry brushed Luna's hair when she asked, "Harry, what's wrong?"

"I've been thinking. . . ."

"There's nothing wrong with that! You should do it more often." He laughed, realizing he had fed her the opportunity.

"But really, what's wrong?"

"It's being here. I don't feel home. Not anymore. We just spent ten months away, except for short vacations. This is just a longer break, and we'll be gone in about two months. It just doesn't feel the same anymore."

Selene asked, "Do you feel Hogwarts is home now?"

"No. That's not home, either. I don't know what I mean."

Selene said, "I think what you're experiencing is some growing up. You're not the same person you were when you left here last September. You're different, so your feelings are different. Being away so much is just driving home the point that you'll be leaving here for good, one day. You'll get your own place, and make that a home. I sometimes wonder if the Muggles don't postpone this by not sending their children away for school. But I think it still eventually happens to everyone.

"Harry, you're growing up, and your feelings are changing, but no matter what you feel, this will always be a home for you. A home is where your loved ones are, and we love you."

"And I love you too, Aunt Selene, Uncle Larry."

They said their goodnights and soon went to bed.
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