Title: Black Moon Rising
Author: Claire Watson (myredturtle)
Fandom: Harry Potter, Little Black Dress
Relationship(s): Future Harry Potter/Luna Lovegood
Content Rating: PG13
Beta: A big thank you to Saydria Wolfe for being a wonderful beta!
Summary: While in Diagon Alley at the start of third year, Harry learned some things about himself that would lead to a very different future.
It was ten o’clock on Wednesday, eleventh of August, and Harry had taken a seat at a table outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice Cream Parlour, where he enjoyed watching the comings and goings of the brightly clad witches and wizards as they hurried past. Florean brought him out a ‘sundae special’ winking and waving away Harry’s attempt to pay.
It didn’t take him long to finish eating as there was still a great deal of novelty in eating ice cream. Harry particularly liked the banana slices decorating the huge confection that had been given. He was licking the spoon and debating on whether to do his transfiguration homework or dive straight into his potions essay, when he felt that funny prickling at the back of his neck again.
Last time he had that feeling, it had turned out to be a large dog that had then proceeded to haunt his dreams. The day after his arrival at the Leaky, Harry had spent some time thinking about that dog. For all his surprise and subsequent flailing and falling, he’d felt no malice or intent to harm, unlike the feeling he regularly got from Ripper. And in his blue-tinged dreams, they played together happily, the big black thing behaving like Harry had always imagined a puppy would.
When Harry looked cautiously around he saw a girl about his own age watching him. Her hair was blonde, and her eyes were slightly protruding. Like with the dog the other day, there was no sense of danger, only a sort of leashed excitement.
She came towards him slowly, as if trying not to spook a wild animal. Harry gave a wry grin at that thought, after all, only the other day he’d been reacting like a wild animal. But today he felt much better about the world in general, so he smiled and gestured towards the seat next to him.
“Hello,” she said rather formally as she sat, before tilting her head to the side slightly. “I see there are fewer nargles around you this year, Harry Potter. That should make things much easier.”
“Nargles?” Harry asked, as he’d not come across them before. “And yes, I’m Harry Potter. What’s your name?”
“My name is Luna Lovegood,” she replied, her light blue eyes fixed solemnly on his green ones. “At Hogwarts they call me Loony Lovegood.”
“Well, I think Luna is a lovely name.” Harry said firmly. “And I have no intentions of calling you anything else. Unless you ask me to, that is. You’re not in my year are you Luna? I think I’d remember you if you were.”
“I’ll be starting second year in September,” she confided, some of the otherworldliness surrounding her fading. “I used to spend a lot of time with Ginny Weasley, but she doesn’t want to be my friend any more. The Sorting Hat put me in Ravenclaw, but I think it made a mistake. Like with you.”
Harry felt his body tense. Was she going to make some comment on him being the Heir of Slytherin? He was still uncomfortable with everyone knowing he was a parselmouth. Luna seemed oblivious to his tension, and began folding one of the paper napkins on the table.
“Clearly we should both have been sorted into Hufflepuff.” Luna looked up from the napkin briefly before looking back down at what her fingers were doing. “Maybe we’d both be less lonely there.”
Harry had to agree with her there. For all that he valued his friendships with Ron and Hermione, he had come to realise that unless the school was in imminent danger from dark lords or basilisks they tended to bulldoze him into playing along with their ideas of fun.
Harry recognised that a part of it was his fault. He was hesitant to speak up and perhaps lose the only friends he’d ever had. On the other hand, neither Ron nor Hermione had ever asked him what he wanted to do. They made decisions, and assumed he’d follow them.
But Harry wasn’t a completely overwhelmed and ignorant first year anymore, and sometimes it was lonely knowing that the people closest to him either didn’t know him very well, or just didn’t care.
For instance, Ron was certain Harry loved quidditch as much as he did, when really, Harry just loved to fly. No one had ever asked him if he wanted to be on the Gryffindor team, it was just something that had happened. And Hermione assumed that his bad study habits were because he had no interest in learning, when in truth it was ingrained in him to keep a low profile, and he’d been dumbing down all his school work since day one. Harry loved learning, he just preferred not to advertise his intelligence. True, he’d never corrected these assumptions, but they’d never asked him what he thought on either subject, either.
So Luna’s words struck a chord deep within him, and he found himself smiling at her again. Perhaps if he’d been in Hufflepuff, he’d have had more support last year. He’d never know, but it was a nice thought.
“Maybe,” he said gently, thinking that if she had taken to introducing herself as Loony to get it over with then last year must have been pretty terrible for her too. “In any case, if you want we can be friends from now on. That should help us both to be less lonely.”
She looked up at him at that, and smiled.
Harry was struck by how pretty she looked all of a sudden, pale and slightly fey, like a fairy.
“I have something I need to talk with you about, Harry Potter.” Luna said, breaking Harry out of the reverie he’d fallen into. “But it’s better to do it in private. You could come to my house, or we could go back to… are you staying at the Leaky Cauldron?”
Harry nodded bemusedly, wondering how on earth she knew about that.
“Or if you prefer, we could hire a room at Gringotts, which is neutral ground.”
“Do I need neutral ground?” Harry asked, taken slightly aback at the idea.
“No.” Luna tilted her head slightly to one side, something he’d noticed her doing several times. “It’s polite to offer you the option, though. Tell me, Harry Potter, do you have an adult you trust to handle your affairs, or do you wish to speak with me yourself?”
“Uh, just call me Harry.” he said, feeling a bit out of his depth. “Will you have an adult along?”
“Oh no,” she shook her head, “Daddy trusts me to take care of myself you know.”
“And your mother?” Harry asked, knowing even as the words left his lips that the answer was going to be bad.
“Mummy died a few years ago.” Luna was looking fixedly at the folded bear that her fingers had created. Harry was no stranger to hidden grief, and it was all over her. He wondered what had caused her to try and hide it like this, what her father was like if she couldn’t share her sadness with him. It seemed as though she was reading his mind, because she continued with “Daddy never really recovered, and now he spends most of his time with the newspaper.”
“The Daily Prophet?”
“No, the Quibbler.” Luna replied, having regained her composure. “But we can talk about that later. Do you have someone you want to speak for you?”
“No.” Harry said, after brief consideration. None of the adults he’d met in the magical world had come across as completely trustworthy, and there was certainly no-one in the muggle world. “Come on, we can go back to the Leaky. I’ll just let Florean know I’m leaving.”
Back in his room, Harry was delighted to see that Hedwig got on well with his new friend. She’d taken a while to warm up to Ron and Hermione, and her approval of Luna made him feel quite a bit better about what he would be hearing.
“What do you know about sentinels and guides?” Luna asked, when they were sitting cross-legged on the bed facing each other.
“Not much.” Harry replied. “I know that sentinels are rare and are guides even rarer, and that they have spirit guides. Why?”
“Because I am a sentinel.” Luna said, giving no indication whatsoever that she might be pulling his leg. “And you are a guide. A shaman, if I’m not mistaken.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Harry spluttered. “I can’t be a guide!” For a moment he had a flashback to a moment just over two years ago, in a hut on a rock in the middle of a storm, telling Hagrid ‘I think you must have made a mistake, I can’t be a wizard.’ He’d been wrong then, and if his instincts to trust this young woman were correct, he’d be wrong again.
And come to think of it, that would explain his ability to know what people were feeling. He’d thought since he found out he was a wizard that his magic was doing it, helping him to know what to expect from Vernon and Petunia.
Luna was sitting there with a tiny smile on her face.
“Okay, let’s say I believe you about being a guide,” Harry temporised. “What makes you think I’m a shaman?”
“Shamans have a connection to both death and the spirit plane that’s visible in their aura,” Luna explained to him. “I think that what happened when you were a baby gave you that connection, and something must have happened more recently that enhanced it. Tell me, Harry Potter, did you have a near death experience at the end of May?”
“Something like that,” Harry responded, thinking of being bitten by the basilisk. He remembered the floating feeling he’d had only moments before Fawkes had cried into the wound, the certainty he’d had that dying was fine and that there was nothing to be afraid of. “I’m not afraid of death, if that makes any difference.”
“It might,” Luna said vaguely, before her gaze sharpened again. “I’m here to offer myself to be your bonded sentinel. We’re too young for a full bond, but our youth also protects us. A new bond in an adult sentinel and guide can be broken by an outside party, but as we’ve yet to reach maturity such tampering would likely permanently damage us both. Our bond would have plenty of time to settle and solidify before they can try to break it.”
“Why would they try to break it?” Harry asked in confusion. “And who is this ‘they’ that you’re talking of? Are you in danger from ‘them’? Is that why you’re suggesting we bond so young?”
“Oh no, I’m not in danger.” Luna assured him. “You are. Strong magical guides are rare enough, but a shaman? We still swear by the name of the last wizarding shaman to walk the earth. If you’re not already bonded when the Ministry finds out, they’ll very likely try to force a bond on you with one of their lackeys, hoping to gain control of you. At this point, you’re lucky that none of the Ministry sentinels have seen you since what happened in May.”
“Which wizard was a shaman?” Harry wondered aloud. “I’ve never heard anything about it.”
“No one mentions it, because everyone knows it.” Luna shrugged. “Do you go about telling everyone that trees grow upwards? Merlin being the last wizarding shaman is common knowledge, it’s why he is still so revered.”
“You’re telling me that being a shaman is that important?” Harry felt a little sick. Being The Boy Who Lived was bad enough. He didn’t need any more fame for something he hadn’t even done.
“Yes.” Luna was fiddling with her hands again, so Harry took some of Florean’s napkins out of his pocket and handed them to her. Luna lit up like he’d offered her a precious stone, and Harry wondered if he’d found someone who was as starved for affection as he sometimes was.
“I’ll be your guide,” he said impulsively. He’d not had even a slight internal warning about Luna since he’d seen her in the Alley, and that was more than he could say about anyone that he’d spent this much time speaking with. Most people wanted to use him for something, and sometime during Lockhart’s stint as DADA teacher Harry had learned to identify what the feeling was. This was the first time he hadn’t been warned against someone who knew both his name and of his fame.
Hermione would probably tell him that he was being reckless and looking before he leapt again, but Hermione had never even made it through a single conversation with him without his magic giving him a warning nudge.
Harry had a feeling that this was important, a turning point in his life that he had to take now. And while he didn’t know a lot about sentinels and guides, and even less about shamans, he did know that it would be up to them how their bond progressed. That if they chose to they could have a platonic bond, and marry others.
“Are you sure?” Luna asked, her vulnerability fully on display for the first time since he’d seen her in the Alley. “I know it’s a lot of trust to put in someone you’ve just met.”
“I trust you.” Harry shrugged self-consciously. “I know I should probably research this more, but I’m getting a feeling of urgency about this. We should bond before someone stops us. After all, I read somewhere that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission.”
Luna giggled at him, and took his hands in hers. “Alright then. You’ll need to formally claim me as your sentinel. Then I’ll agree, and if we did it right we’ll be taken to the spirit plane.”
“Luna Lovegood, will you be my bonded sentinel?” Harry asked, wondering if there were supposed to be ritual words or something. What if he was mucking this up?
“I agree to be your bonded sentinel, from now until our deaths.” Luna said, her blue eyes shining.
An enormous black wolf appeared opposite a polar bear. A moment later they leapt into each other in a burst of light that whited-out Harry’s vision.
When his eyesight cleared, Harry and Luna were standing in the same blue-tinged land he’d been visiting in his dreams recently. Standing there waiting for them was a robed figure, a middle aged man with a short grey beard. At his side stood the polar bear, and two wolves. One of the wolves was the huge black one. The black wolf towered over the other wolf, an old-looking brindled grey with a muzzle that looked almost white.
“Welcome, my young friends.” The stranger smiled at them benevolently, speaking in unaccented English. “You may call me Merlin, and I’m a shaman guide. It’s my honour and privilege to be called to assist you both as you learn the skills you’ll need to thrive. I’ll be your instructor here on the spirit plane for the foreseeable future. My, aren’t you both young? Tell me all about everything, and let’s try to make sure you have everything you need from here.”
Harry and Luna spent what seemed like days on the spirit plane playing with their spirit guides and being taught by Merlin, who explained that one day it would be Harry’s responsibility to guide those who came after his death until the next shaman died.
He taught Harry how to use his gifts now that they were anchored, how to protect his bond so that it was safe from external influences, and how to hide his aura and shield himself and his bonded sentinel. Harry also learned how to anchor and assist multiple sentinels who weren’t bonded with him, a guide-gift that only shamans possessed.
Merlin was delighted with Luna and her pragmatic outlook on life and complimented Harry for making a wise choice. He was saddened to hear of their fears, and spent a lot of time meditating with them both, helping them heal from the emotional damage in their pasts. When they were ready, he discussed politics and the current state of the Ministry and ways to keep themselves neutral and as safe as possible.
Occasionally, the large black dog would show up and play with them, and Merlin was able to tell them that the dog was the spiritual representation of someone in the waking world who was seeking Harry. Going by his demeanour he meant no harm, and it was a testament to his dedication that he was able to find Harry on the spirit plane.
At other times a cold wind would swirl around, making them shiver. It didn’t take Merlin’s explanations to connect this unpleasant feeling with the shade that Voldemort had become.
When Harry expressed concern about how long the training was taking, Merlin only smiled, and told him that time was fluid. He promised that, when Harry was a little older and less attached to a linear progression, Merlin would show him how to manipulate it to his benefit.
When it came time to say goodbye, both Harry and Luna were a little distraught.Merlin reminded them both that he was always available to them and that they’d see him again soon.
When Harry opened his eyes back on the tangible plane, the first thing he saw was Luna’s face. More specifically, Luna’s eyes, which were no longer light blue but silvery grey. They smiled happily at each other, and Harry could clearly feel the link between them.
“Come on, Harry!” Luna exclaimed, crawling off the bed. “Let’s go to Flourish and Blotts! I’m a Ravenclaw, they’ll expect me to be buying lots of books, that way you can get anything you want! And we have to get you a better trunk, that one will hardly hold anything at all!”
And Harry let her drag him back out to the Alley to Gringotts, where he got to listen to his parents Wills, and discovered that as the last Potter, he actually had a lot more money than he’d thought. He would be required to go in as soon as possible after his fifteenth birthday to claim his inheritance using the old blood rituals, including that of the Black family, which he and Luna were very surprised to hear. They emerged from the bank and wandered down towards the bookstore.
“Why would someone planning to betray you and your family have you listed as his sole beneficiary?” Luna asked.
“Why is there no trial transcript?” Harry returned. They stopped for a moment and exchanged glances.
“Bloody Ministry.” They said in unison, and then continued on their way. There was nothing they could do about it now. They were just too young and didn’t know anyone trustworthy who had enough power and could speak on their behalf. Hopefully Sirius Black would stay alive long enough for them to find some answers.
The rest of that month was a golden time for Harry and Luna as they got to know each other better. Each morning Luna would be waiting for Harry when he came down from his room. They wandered up and down the Alley exploring the shops. They finished their homework at Florean’s (who was delighted to see Harry spending so much time with one of his friends).
They even popped in a couple of times to see Ollivander, who was Luna’s great-great-uncle. Ollivander insisted they get holsters for their wands, and scolded Luna for her habit of sticking hers behind her ear. Harry grabbed two spare holsters, planning to give one each to Ron and Hermione.
Luna endeared herself for life to the manager at Flourish and Blotts by showing him how to calm down the Monster Book of Monsters, and as thanks they were allowed to browse the restricted section, which took several afternoons.
Harry spent part of each day looking at the Firebolts. Luna was less interested and insisted that ten minutes a day was quite enough drooling time.
As the end of August neared, more and more Hogwarts students came by to do their school shopping. Harry greeted all those he knew cordially. He was infuriated at some of the comments that the Ravenclaws made to Luna, and only his training with Merlin stopped him from giving them a piece of his mind. He contented himself with glaring at them and was pleased to see that they soon made themselves scarce.
As the days went on Luna spent less time listening and responding to things that normal people couldn’t hear. Merlin had shown her how to use Harry to ground her senses, and as a result she appeared a lot less eccentric. Harry could feel her trust in him growing, and the more she trusted him the fewer barriers she kept up.
On the last day of the holidays, Harry and Luna ran into Ron and Hermione outside Florean’s. They both seemed to know that Harry had been staying in the Alley, as well as why, and their initial greetings were pretty much what he had expected of them.
Ron thought Harry blowing up Marge was a great joke, and Hermione was disapproving, as if he had done it to be funny. It took all of his new training to stop himself from snapping at her when she sternly told him he was lucky that he hadn’t been expelled.
He hadn’t exactly sat down and spelled out how things were for him at the Dursleys, but Ron had been there with his brothers to rescue him last year, and Harry had overheard him later telling Hermione all about the bars on the window, and the cat flap on the door. She’d seen the clothes Harry wore. She was a bright girl, and when he was feeling petty Harry wondered if she’d paid any attention at all, or if she didn’t think that part of his life was noteworthy, as it hadn’t been documented in a book.
It was only after Hermione’s lecture about rule breaking that either she or Ron seemed to become aware that Luna was still standing with them.
“What are you doing here, Loony?” Ron asked rudely.
Harry could feel Luna’s withdrawal through their bond, and was instantly infuriated with the redhead in front of him.
“Ron!” Hermione admonished, just as Harry turned flinty eyes towards him. “That was rude! Calling people names is juvenile, and also really mean! You should apologise at once!”
“It’s just Loony,” Ron muttered, before Hermione’s elbow in his ribs made him flinch back. “Ow! Okay, okay, I’m sorry all right?”
Harry decided then and there that he no longer wanted to be friends with someone who could be so thoughtlessly cruel. He didn’t even know why he’d been putting up with his bullying behaviour. Was he that desperate for friendship?
To make things clear to both Ron and Hermione, he moved back so that he was standing closer to his sentinel.
“Just because a group of despicable idiots call someone a horrid name, it doesn’t mean that everyone else should follow their example, Weasel.” Harry snapped, before turning a friendlier gaze on Hermione. “Luna and I have already done our school shopping. You two might as well go ahead and do yours. We’ll see you later.”
Before either Ron or Hermione could respond, Harry and Luna were walking away. Harry decided that it might be a good time to visit Ollivanders. It was the one shop that Harry knew his friends wouldn’t visit, and Mr Ollivander would no doubt be happy to let them poke around in his store room for a while.
Harry was of the opinion that the sentinel/guide stuff was no-one’s business but his and Luna’s (and perhaps Luna’s father’s). He had no intention of telling either Hermione of Ron about it. At least, not while he was still so annoyed with both of them. Perhaps he would tell Hermione, if she promised to keep it a secret. Harry couldn’t see himself trusting Ron with something that could hurt him and Luna so much, not anymore.
When Harry finally got back to the Leaky Cauldron — after biding Luna farewell until they could meet on the train — he discovered that the whole Weasley family was planning to stay there the night. Mrs Weasley spent most of the evening with Ginny, who appeared to be rather weepy. Ron and Hermione had their heads together and were giving him the cold shoulder, no doubt in retaliation for him going off with Luna earlier. Percy announced importantly that he had a lot of things to get done so that his Head Boy position would run smoothly, and went upstairs by himself. Harry ended up spending the majority of the evening with Fred and George.
They teased him a bit about his friendship with Luna. Apparently Ron had told everyone over lunch that Harry had left them high and dry for his new girlfriend. Since neither of them called her by that disgusting nickname, Harry was easily able to hold his temper. He was even able to turn the tables at one point, asking probing questions about their feelings for Angelina and Katie. All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening.
The next morning, Harry spent a great deal of time waiting for the Weasley’s to get organised. He’d politely asked Mr Weasley to cast featherlight and shrinking charms on his new trunk, and then watched as the harried father went around applying the same charms to everyone else’s luggage. Before too long they were on their way, and for once the Weasley family made it to Platform 9 3/4’s with time to spare.
Harry said his polite goodbyes to Mr and Mrs Weasley and then boarded the Hogwarts Express, heading straight for where he could feel Luna’s familiar presence. She was right down the end of the train in a compartment with only one other occupant.
A shabbily dressed man was asleep next to the window.Luna got Harry’s attention and motioned wordlessly towards the small battered case in the luggage rack. It was held together with knotted string, and a label with ‘Professor R.J. Lupin’ on it was visible on one corner, the letters peeling but legible.
Harry felt his eyes widen, and he exchanged glances with Luna, remembering his father’s Will.
“Remus John Lupin?” he suggested to her quietly.
Not quietly enough it seemed, as R.J. Lupin opened his eyes, lifting and turning his head.
“James?” he asked, before frowning slightly. “No, of course not. You must be Harry.”
“Yes,” Harry answered, “and this is Luna. Would you mind making sure we won’t be interrupted please Mr Lupin? We have some questions we need to ask you.”
“I’m not sure that would be appropriate.” Lupin replied, shifting a little. “I’m going to be your professor this year, and I can’t show any favouritism.”
“Snape shows favouritism all the time.” Harry informed him flatly. “And you’re not my professor yet. Also, what’s ‘not appropriate’ is that you were apparently one of my father’s best friends, and yet this is the first time I can remember seeing you.”
“Don’t be frightened,” Luna said kindly, accepting a handful of paper napkins from Harry. “We don’t care that you’re a werewolf.”
Lupin paled and drew his wand, quickly throwing a few spells at the door. Harry wasn’t sure what they all did, but one of them caused the door to lock. Part of his brain wondered if alohamora would be enough to open it. He suspected not.
The conversation that followed was one of the most enlightening ones Harry had been a part of — on the tangible plane, anyway. Lupin had indeed been James’ friend, and Dumbledore had assured him many times over the years that Harry was healthy and happy, and that going to see him would only confuse him.
Harry quickly disabused him of that notion.
Lupin looked quite fierce at Harry’s description of his home life. It seemed very probable that Dumbledore would have a visit from a rather angry werewolf sooner or later. Luna advised him to have the conversation in a semi-public place with the Heads of House present, and Lupin thanked her for the advice with a tight smile.
When Luna brought up the subject of Sirius Black and the questions that she and Harry had about his lack of a trial, Lupin was visibly shocked.
“Why were you even asking about that?” he asked, looking at them both as if they were mad.
“Harry is Mr Black’s sole beneficiary, and therefore next in line for the Black Lordship.” Luna said airily, folding her current napkin into the shape of the black dog that often joined them on the spirit plane. “We thought that was strange, given Mr Black’s reputation as one of Mr Who’s most loyal followers. And then we found out that Mr Black is Harry’s godfather. The Will indicated that he was oath-sworn and everything. It’s only natural to want to know why he did it. Even more than that, we want to know how he did it. Those oaths are supposed to be unbreakable, you know.”
“Of course we’re not all that certain that he did ‘do it’.” Harry said evenly. “Earlier this year I saw an innocent man thrown into Azkaban with no trial and no proof. Forgive me if I have no trust in the Ministry’s pronouncements of guilt and innocence. Hagrid was framed by the real culprit. Who’s to say that Black wasn’t framed too?”
“Harry, he didn’t just betray your family,” Lupin said gently. “He also killed our friend Peter and twelve other bystanders. If he was framed, what was he even doing there?”
Harry shrugged. “How should I know? That’s one of the questions I want to ask him. But logically, if Black didn’t betray my parents, why would he go looking for Pettigrew, or vice versa?”
Lupin frowned over that for a second, before his eyes went wide and he sat back.
“If Peter was the betrayer-” Lupin breathed. “Of course Sirius would go after him! But, all those innocent people. He didn’t need to kill them too.”
Harry exchanged glances with Luna.
This was about as far as their discussions with Merlin had taken them. Merlin had been quite sure that there was no spell that could pulverize one body so badly there was only a finger left while simultaneously leaving twelve other recognisable corpses in the near vicinity, as any spell that destructive would undoubtedly take out the caster as well. It had taken a bit of time and a number of demonstrations on the spirit plane before both Harry and Luna understood exactly what he meant.
“As far as we can tell, there are three options.” Harry explained. “The first is that Black did it. The second is that Pettigrew did it. The third is that another party did it. Everyone knows the arguments for Black being guilty. If it was someone unknown, then the details are unknown too. If Pettigrew did it, the timeline would look like this.
“My parents and I are betrayed. Sirius chases Peter and catches up to him. Peter blows up the street, cutting off his finger to leave behind and either apparating out of there or leaving covertly in some other fashion, using the confusion as a cover. Sirius gets thrown into Azkaban without a trial. For some reason, he finds out where Peter is, and breaks out. Because if he was after me, shouldn’t he have come after me two years ago? Everyone knew where I was, after all.”
Lupin was looking rather troubled.
“Nothing is certain, of course.” Luna said as she finished her paper owl and started on something else. “If Mr Pettigrew is the guilty party, then he’s considered dead and has been in hiding for the last thirteen years. If he was under polyjuice or something, how would Mr Black even recognise him?”
“He could be hiding in his animagus form,” Lupin said, more to himself than to either Harry or Luna. “But then, so could Sirius.”
Harry could feel his eyebrows rising towards his hairline. Luna leaned forward eagerly.
“Animagus? Both of them?” she asked.
“Yes, and James too.” Lupin smiled, his eyes distant and unfocused. “They learned how in order to keep me company on the full moon. James was a stag, Sirius was a dog, and Peter was a rat. Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs. We called ourselves the Marauders, and we were closer than brothers. Or so we thought.”
“A dog? A big, black dog?” Harry asked.
“A rat? A grey rat?” Luna asked almost simultaneously.
They stopped and looked at each other, before Harry gestured for Luna to go first.
Lupin was looking as if one more shock would have him passing out cold.
“The Weasley’s have had a pet rat for the last ten or so years,” Luna explained. “Ever since I came online he’s smelled funny to me, more like a person than an animal. But he’s the only rat I know that lives with humans, and I wondered if that was why he smelled so odd. And anyway, what could I say? ‘I’m sorry but your rat smells funny?’ Ron already calls me Loony, I didn’t want to give him anything else to laugh at.”
“Scabbers,” Harry said flatly. “He was Percy’s for years, and then Ron inherited him when Percy was given an owl for making Prefect. He sleeps in the same room as me, and now that I think about it, he’s missing a toe on one of his front paws. He’s been looking a bit worse for wear lately, Hermione mentioned that Ron bought a tonic for him at the Menagerie yesterday.”
“Can you somehow knock him out and bring him to me?” Lupin asked, his eyes turning from light green to a slightly more golden colour. “I would be most interested in having a discussion with him.”
“Is there anyone in the Ministry that you trust? Someone that can ensure justice will be done if we hand him over?” Harry asked, disregarding Lupin’s request. “After all, it’s not just Pettigrew that’s important here. Black is out there somewhere with a death sentence hanging over his head, and I for one would like the truth to be known, whatever it happens to be.”
“You’re right. I’ll have to think about that for a while. Normally I would say Professor Dumbledore, but I’m starting to wonder…” Lupin sighed. He perked up again. “What was that you were saying about a big black dog?”
“I saw one a few weeks ago,” Harry shrugged. “He startled me when I was running away after accidentally blowing up Marge Dursley. Since then he’s been in my dreams, but I’ve never felt threatened or afraid of him.”
“Are you a Seer?” Lupin asked curiously.
Harry had difficulty suppressing his sniggers.“No. Let’s just say that I’m attuned to the spirit plane and leave it at that.”
“We should probably unlock the door now. There are people looking for us.” Luna said, her head cocked slightly to one side.
Harry nodded, and helped her store her paper creations in her satchel, which had an expanded area inside specially made so that it wouldn’t crush them. It had been a gift from Harry when he saw how much she hated her creations being destroyed.
Lupin waved his wand at the door again, and settled down in his previous sleeping posture. He gave them both a wink, and closed his eyes.
A moment later they flew open again to look with shock at Luna.
“What do you mean, ‘came online’?”
Before either Harry or Luna could answer there was noise in the corridor.
Several arguing people were approaching. They could clearly hear Ron’s confused voice proclaiming that a door had appeared out of nowhere, and Hermione telling him not to be ridiculous. Harry made a zipping motion, and Lupin nodded with a frown before resuming his earlier pose.
A moment later, Ron opened the door and stuck his head in. “There you are Harry! Why did you make us come looking for you? Why didn’t you join us in our compartment?”
“I got on the train before you did, Ron.” Harry pointed out reasonably. “If anything, you didn’t come and sit with me.”
“Well, I couldn’t find you, could I?” Ron grumbled as he and Hermione sat down. “Here, who’s this then?”
“Professor R.J. Lupin,” whispered Hermione.
“How do you know that?” Ron asked, lowering his voice slightly.
“It’s on his case, see?” Hermione gestured towards the peeling letters that Harry and Luna had already noticed.
“Why would you want to sit with a professor?” Ron said, as if Harry was insane.
“Why not?” Harry replied. “I don’t plan to misbehave, and this way Malfoy will either leave us alone or get in trouble. Win/win.”
“It will be nice to have a competent professor.” Luna said, removing the latest issue of the Quibbler from her satchel and opening it upside down.
Harry had to hide his grin. The Quibbler seemed like a strange newspaper that told ludicrous stories, but when you intentionally read it upside down it contained various factual tales regarding some of the more prominent wizarding citizens. It was a most amusing read.
There was some small talk for a while about what they would be expecting in the upcoming year, and Ron waxed eloquent about the Cannon’s chances in the League this season.
Harry responded when addressed, but otherwise sat thinking about Scabbers and what they needed to do to find out if he was indeed Peter Pettigrew.
Harry didn’t really feel like anything off the trolley, so declined when it came past, to Ron’s obvious disgruntlement. Malfoy stopped by as usual, but he left again when he saw that a teacher was with them.
Outside it started raining, and Harry started feeling twitchy. Luna put her paper away and raised her eyebrows in his direction. He didn’t know what to tell her, so he shook his head.
Then the train started to slow down. Ron was pleased, and looking forward to the feast, but Harry was only getting twitchier. Luna was looking worried now too.
The train came to a jolting stop, and all of the lights went out. Luna scooted over closer to Harry and they held hands as they waited for whatever was coming.
Neville and Ginny managed to make their way into the compartment in the dark, tripping over everybody and everything. Harry was starting to feel uncomfortably cold and rather clammy when Lupin lit the room with a ball of fire that he held in his hand.
The professor went towards the door, but it opened before he got there.
In the doorway was a towering black cloaked figure. Harry realised instantly that it was this figure that was producing both the chill and his other discomfort. Luna was holding his hand so tightly that he wondered distantly if the blood flow had been cut off yet. The dark cloaked figure in the doorway drew in a deep, rattling breath.
Harry could feel his shields being tugged on, stretched outwards in a way that defied anything that Merlin had taught him how to counter. He struggled to regain control of himself, terrified of what he could do to Luna and the others around him if his shields fully dropped.
He could hear a distant fight, raised voices and a woman’s despairing scream. His spirit wolf appeared in of him the instant before he slipped into unconsciousness. His last thought was confusion as to why the usually jet black wolf was suddenly pearly white.
Merlin appeared in the blackness before him, taking his hand. All of a sudden he was back on the spirit plane.
“What happened?” Merlin asked urgently, keeping hold of Harry’s hand and reinforcing his tattered shields.
Harry explained the dark figure and the feelings it evoked to his mentor as best he could.
“And for some reason my shields just started dissolving.” He finished, feeling downcast that he failed the first time his lessons were tested.
“Can I see?” Merlin asked gently.
Harry nodded, and the familiar feel of Merlin’s mind washed over him.
“Demon!” Merlin hissed when he had disengaged. “Where in the world did a demon come from? Don’t be upset, young one. I had no idea there were demons loose in the world again, I thought I had destroyed them all! Shielding from them is quite different from anything I’ve taught you so far, I didn’t think you needed to know that yet. Demons!”
Harry’s heart nearly stopped.
“Luna! She’s still there, I have to get back!”
“Luna will be fine, young one.” Merlin reassured him. “The stronger the guide the more they’re affected by the demons. A sentinel, however, is not so debilitated by demons as a guide is. In fact, I imagine that you’ll find that particular demon discorporated when you open your eyes again. Later I will teach you how to completely destroy them so they can never reform, but you’re not quite ready for that yet. For the moment, go back and comfort your sentinel. She will be distraught at your collapse.”
“All right,” Harry nodded fiercely, feeling Luna’s terror and anger through his bond. Just before following the link back to his body, he grinned at his mentor. “Oh yeah, we think the big black dog is the spiritual representation of Sirius Black.”
And then he was opening his eyes to find himself held in Luna’s arms. She had clearly stopped him from sliding to the floor. As he sat up, he noticed her whole body was aglow, and her hair was swirling in an unseen wind. Through the brightness he could just make out the expression on her face.
She was baring her teeth in her rage. “You – will – not – have him!” she grated out, and he realised that the glow surrounding her also surrounded him moments before the light around them seemed to solidify. Then it started moving slowly outwards in an ever growing circle.
Harry felt the internal tug as Luna tapped his magic to bolster her efforts. He opened a channel to her, offering his magic freely, and the glowing dome began expanding more rapidly.
The demon in the doorway turned to flee, but Luna’s dome was too quick for it. There was a horrific sound, like a cross between a scream and a gurgle, then the demon burst into atoms and dissipated, tattered robes falling empty to the floor.
The dome continued expanding. It was now so bright that even once it was beyond the compartment it could still be seen, the opposite of a shadow moving over the walls. Every few moments another gurgle-scream could be heard and Harry could feel the moment when the dome encompassed the entire train.
Then it seemed to shrink back until the light clung to the trains exterior, surrounding it in that unearthly glow. Harry could feel Luna starting to tire, but he knew that before she was finished she had one more thing she needed to do. Rather than letting her draw on his magic, he actively pushed some her way, trying to be careful not to overload her.
Luna gave a triumphant laugh, before the light surrounding the train brightened once more before seeming to sink into the metal, bonding itself to the train. As the light died away, so did Luna’s remaining strength, and this time it was Harry’s turn to catch Luna before she hit the floor in a dead faint.
There was silence around them as Harry checked to make sure she was all right. As far as he could tell, she was emotionally and magically exhausted, but not dangerously so. He decided she would be fine after some rest, but planned to take her to be checked out by a healer just in case. Merlin would be able to diagnose her magic, but for more physical matters he was unable to help.
“What the bloody hell was that?” Ron cried, breaking the silence.
“That was a dementor,” Lupin replied, his wand still at the ready.
“Ronald! Language!” Hermione scolded, before turning to Harry. “What was that? How did she do that? I’ve read about dementors, and there’s not supposed to be anything that can do what Luna just did!”
Ginny was frowning at Luna. Neville was sitting there looking gobsmacked.
Harry wanted to ignore them all, but he knew that wasn’t a good idea. Still holding Luna, he accepted the chocolate that Lupin was passing around, before interrupting Hermione’s string of questions.
“Hermione!” he barked, and then softened his tone when she closed her mouth with an audible click of teeth. “I can’t answer your questions, because I don’t know. I’m not sure Luna knows how she did it, and in any case, she can’t answer you right now. I’m just glad that those dementors are gone. They were evil.”
“I’m sure they’re not evil, Harry.” Hermione objected. “The Ministry wouldn’t use them as prison guards if they were. Oh Harry, she’s going to get into such trouble for hurting them. She should have just moved them away from us, not actually killed them!”
“They haven’t been killed,” Harry snapped, angry that Hermione was blaming Luna for what had just happened. “They’ve lost their coporeal bodies, not the same thing at all. And they’re demons, Hermione, how can you say that they’re not evil? Couldn’t you feel them?”
“Bloody awful,” Ron agreed, shuddering in memory, but Hermione wasn’t listening.
“How could you possibly know that, Harry? And they’re dementors, not demons!”
“Um, actually,” Neville said somewhat timidly, “they are demons. The Ministry summoned and chained them and put them under a geas to serve wizards back in 1696, after the Statute of Secrecy had been signed. It was a big deal at the time because the motion only passed by one vote. There was talk that several of the voting members had been poisoned so they couldn’t make the session.”
Hermione frowned at him.
“The Longbottom was one of those who became mysteriously sick,” Neville added, squirming in his seat at being the centre of attention. “It’s part of our family histories.”
Leaving them to their discussion, Harry began thinking about how this was going to play out when they got to Hogwarts. There was no way he and Luna would be able to keep their secret much longer, but it was always going to be a long shot once Dumbledore saw them in any case. At least now there would be more than one hat in the ring, so to speak. If he could keep the different factions fighting amongst themselves for a while, all the better.
By the time The Express reached Hogsmeade station, Luna was awake again. She sat quietly and refused to answer the questions Hermione and Ginny were asking her, but Harry could tell through the bond that she wasn’t upset, merely tired.
From what the others had been saying, he gathered a picture of what had happened after he had passed out. Lupin called his spirit wolf a ‘patronus’ and it had merged with Luna’s polar bear to create the bright glow that had surrounded them both when he had awoken. The dementor had been moving towards Harry, but the bright light had stopped it in it’s tracks. That’s when Harry had awoken.
Not far from where the train stopped there were huge stagecoaches, pulled by ghastly looking reptilian skeletal winged horse like things, waiting for them. Harry helped Luna into one and made sure she was comfortable before taking his own seat. Ron and Hermione climbed in after him, followed by Neville and Ginny. As soon as the door shut the coach started moving.
“What were those creatures?” Harry asked curiously, not terribly worried because while they looked gruesome, they didn’t feel any different to most other animals.
“What creatures?” asked Ron.
“The horse type things pulling the coaches,” Harry replied.
Ron looked at him as though he was barmy.
“Harry, nothing pulls the carriages,” Hermione said gently, exchanging a glance with Ron. “Nothing pulled them last year, either.”
“I saw them too,” Luna assured Harry, but that only made Hermione and Ron trade significant glances again.
“They’re thestrals,” Neville said in a subdued tone. “You can only see them if you’ve seen death and accepted it.”
Hermione looked sceptical but didn’t say anything. Harry knew that she would be making a beeline for the library as soon as possible, to research both dementors and thestrals. He hoped she could find enough to answer some of her questions.
“So who did you see die?” Ron asked Neville, ignoring the jab in the ribs Hermione gave him and the way his sister covered her face with her hands in embarrassment.
“I swear, I don’t know how we can be related,” came Ginny’s muffled voice. “I think the twins must have dropped him on his head a few too many times as a child.”
Neville had turned red, but he answered with a quiet dignity. “I was sitting with my grandfather when he died. And Gran warned me about the thestrals, she was worried that they would frighten me.”
Out the window, Harry could see the tall stone columns flanking the huge wrought iron gates. He stiffened when he saw two dementors standing guard on either side. “If those foul things are going to be stationed near the school, then I won’t be attending.”
“Minister Fudge insisted,” Neville said miserably. “They’re here to catch Black.”
“The Minister thinks that Sirius Black is going to waltz up to the gates of Hogwarts?” Harry asked, baffled by the logic.
“I overheard Mum and Dad talking last night.” Ron said reluctantly. “Everybody thinks that Black is after you, Harry, to get revenge for offing You-Know-Who.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that theory already,” Harry replied acerbically. “If Black really wanted to kill me he would have broken out two years ago. It’s not been a secret that I go to Hogwarts, you know. And I have a slight problem with using a lot of guards that we know actually do want to kill me to guard me from one escaped prisoner who might want to kill me. Not to mention Black’s obviously found his way around the dementors once, what’s to stop him doing it again? If that is indeed his purpose.”
“One dementor heading in your general direction doesn’t mean all of them want to kill you Harry,” Hermione chided. “I’m sure the Minister knows what he’s doing.”
“Like he knew what he was doing when he threw Hagrid in prison last year?” Harry asked her with raised eyebrows.
Hermione gave a long suffering sigh and rolled her eyes. “Just because he made one bad decision, it doesn’t mean that all of his decisions are bad.”
“You call sending someone to prison with no trial a ‘bad decision’?” Harry wondered if she actually believed what she was saying, or if she just wanted to win the argument. Harry didn’t usually argue with either Hermione or Ron unless there were dark lords or basilisks about, but he had decided that this year he would express his opinions more.
“Well no, but-”
“I would call it ‘a gross miscarriage of justice’, and the person who made that decision ‘a man who has no respect for the rights of others’.”
“Anyone may be arrested on suspicion of committing a crime.” Hermione said in the patient tones of someone arguing with an idiot.
“In order to hold anyone for longer than twenty four hours, formal charges need to be made, and formal charges require evidence. More evidence than ‘we think he done it’. How long did the Minister have Hagrid in prison, surrounded by dementors?” Harry made sure to keep his voice even.
Before Hermione could answer him, the coach stopped. Hermione got out of the coach and walked off without looking back, indignation in every line of her body.
Harry grabbed Luna’s hand again before joining the swarming mass making for the huge front doors. He saw Malfoy smirking at him, and no doubt the blonde Slytherin intended to make some nasty comment, but Harry pretended he wasn’t there and just walked past.
Just inside the front door Professor McGonagall called out to Harry and Hermione, so they broke away from the moving sea of students and made their way over to where the stern looking witch was standing.
“Not you, Lovegood, it’s Granger and Potter I need to see.” McGonagall said briskly, only to frown when Harry didn’t drop Luna’s hand.
“I’m sorry Professor, but I need to stay with Luna until she’s been checked out by a healer.” Harry said, smiling reassuringly at his sentinel, as Luna had once mentioned that she found McGonagall rather unnerving.
McGonagall’s frown moved to Luna. “What in Merlin’s name can be wrong? Very well, I was going to have Madam Pomfrey come and see you so I suppose she can look over Lovegood too. Come with me.”
“Pardon the question, Professor, but is Madam Pomfrey a fully qualified healer then? I thought she was a medi-witch?” Harry knew that he was inviting McGonagall’s ire, but there was no way he was allowing either Luna or himself to be seen to by anyone other than a fully qualified and accredited healer. There were oaths that full healers had to take in their final ceremony that weren’t considered necessary for the lesser ranks, and this year Harry knew what his rights were.
“Madam Pomfrey has taken all the schooling and is fully capable to be a full healer, she only lacks the documentation.” McGonagall said repressively, stopping in the middle of an empty corridor to glare at him. “She has done wonders here at Hogwarts as the sole member of the hospital staff.”
“That may be true, but as the heir to two lordships, I am stating that from now on my needs are to be met by a fully qualified and accredited healer, as per the charter of Hogwarts, confirmed and agreed upon at the annual meeting of the Hogwarts Board only two weeks ago.” Harry said politely but firmly.
McGonagall’s nostrils flared, but she gave sharp nod. “I will arrange for a healer from St Mungo’s immediately then. Please go up to the hospital wing to wait until someone is available. Granger, with me.” When she turned on her heels to lead Hermione away, the sound of her shoes echoed loudly in the quiet, offset only by the quiet pattering of the student beside her.
Harry shrugged, and offered Luna his arm with a dramatic bow. “Shall we milady?”
“We shall, milord.” Luna responded with a giggle.
Madam Pomfrey looked rather miffed that Harry wanted an outside healer to take care of him. Harry didn’t like hurting her feelings, she had always been kind to him, but he needed the reassurance of the healers oath, especially now he had Luna to take care of.
“What on earth is wrong with you that you need to send to St Mungo’s for?” Pomfrey asked as they waited.
“I’ll answer your question if you answer one of mine.” Harry returned, his concern for Luna’s privacy greater than his feelings of guilt over Pomfrey’s unhappiness. “Why did you never get your full healers accreditation?”
“That’s a very personal question!” Madam Pomfrey said, drawing back like she expected to be stung.
“Well, it’s not you personally that we object to.” Harry tried to explain. “It’s your lack of final rites. It’s well known that you can’t put a full healer under the imperious, or any other compulsion spells for that matter. Their minds can’t be read without their permission, their oaths keep them safe. As it’s been made quite clear over the last two years that there are a number of people who would like to do me great harm, I must insist that a position as open to misuse as ‘healer’ be someone who has taken those oaths.”
“Hmph,” was the only reply he received, but Pomfrey seemed less upset by his decision.
Luna was occupying herself by drawing faces on the inside of a fogged up window with her forefinger. The first one was Harry, and then a man that Harry assumed was her father, and the one she was currently working on was starting to look a great deal like Professor Lupin.
When Luna turned away from the window to look towards the door, Harry sat up a little straighter.
A man that came through was tall and solidly built, rather imposing, but otherwise jovial looking. He greeted Madam Pomfrey in a robust voice, before he turned to Harry and Luna and introduced himself as Healer Garath Greenfields.
Harry made careful note of the wide metallic looking cuffs around Greenfields wrists. They matched the pictures he had seen, down to the embedded gemstones and the runic clusters. This man had indeed taken final rites.
Greenfields didn’t seem at all surprised when Harry asked for a private consultation, and frowned at Pomfrey when she tried to say it was unnecessary. “Don’t be ridiculous Poppy, of course they may have a closed consultation!”
It took some time to make one of the hospital rooms truly private, the paintings needed to be taken off the walls and Healer Greenfields did two separate sweeps for monitoring charms before he put up his own privacy spells.
“Now, Minerva mentioned something about dementor exposure, and a bad reaction? But wait, first things first. Mr Potter I could find no file in your name at St Mungo’s, so we must start one.”
While he had been speaking, Greenfields had pulled a shrunken trunk from his pocket and opened it out on the floor. He placed a thick blue book on the table beside him, and tapped a matching blue quill, which began to write. As soon as he confirmed it was working, Greenfields began firing questions at Harry as to his previous medical history. At each answer or request to clarify the question, the healer’s expression grew grimmer and grimmer.
Harry was rather grateful for Luna’s presence, he was starting to feel a bit nervous. When Greenfields started casting unfamiliar spells in his direction, only the empathic reading he had done on the man stopped him from trying to leave the room.
“They’re standard diagnostic charms.” Luna said quietly in his ear, allowing him to relax a bit.
Of course she would be familiar with such things. Most magicals probably were.
The interaction hadn’t escaped the Healer, and he lowered his wand, sighing.
“I’m sorry, Mr Potter. It didn’t occur to me that you wouldn’t know what I was doing. Perhaps we should begin slightly differently. What exactly have I been brought here for? Minerva only told me that one of her young lions was demanding to see a fully qualified Healer rather than the medi-witch for dementor exposure, and had invoked the charter.”
“Do I have your oath that nothing discussed here will be revealed to any others without our express permission?” Harry asked, still hesitating.
“Until you reach your majority I must share all information with your magical guardian. Other than that, you do indeed have my oath.” Greenfields spoke carefully and some of his more relaxed manner returned.
“Ah,” Harry said, looking to Luna for help.
“Harry’s true magical guardian, the one appointed by his parents in their wills, was imprisoned without trial before he could take custody,” she informed the man “The Wizengamot appointed one in his place, but neither Gringotts nor the Family Magic recognise that guardianship. Which guardianship will you be recognising?”
Greenfields sat back for a moment considering. His glance strayed for a moment to the blue book, open and already half filled with the results of the diagnostics he had already cast. He closed his eyes while he pinched the bridge of his nose between two fingers. When he met Harry’s eyes again, he looked determined.
“I will align myself with your Family Magic and Gringotts,” Greenfields decided. “Anyone else trying to claim to be your magical guardian will be receiving a three-fold retribution spell.
“It’s a fairly standard spell that can only be used by authorised healers when guardians have allowed mistreatment of their wards,” he added when Harry and Luna’s eyebrows went up. “It doesn’t take a genius intellect to see that your upbringing has been execrable.”
“The reason we wanted a healer that had taken final rites, one who would keep our secrets, is that Luna is a sentinel, and I am a shaman guide.” Harry said quickly, wanting to get it over and done with. “Me-Luna was a little concerned that I hadn’t been receiving treatment for several things, despite several stays in this hospital wing. Earlier, there was an incident on the train with dementors, and both of us passed out briefly. Also, Luna did some pretty spectacular magic to ward the train against further dementor attacks, and I want to make sure that she’s all right.”
Greenfields eyes opened wide. He flicked another spell, at both of them this time, and whatever results he got back made him give a wordless cry of outrage. Dropping his wand to scrub his fingers through his short hair, the Healer sat still for a moment, just breathing. When he finally straightened up, he appeared to have regained whatever control he had lost.
“Ah, don’t be afraid,” Greenfields said, picking up his wand again. “There’s nothing immediately wrong that a little food and sleep won’t fix, I’m just horrified on your behalf. I’ve already had several indications that you’re alive in spite of rather than because of the ‘care’ you’ve received, and that was already bad enough. But the first shaman guide since Merlin? And then dementors! Having dementors around defenceless young children was already the height of idiocy, but putting a shaman in critical danger might be enough to topple the Ministry. Every single encounter between a guide and a dementor in the last three hundred years has led to the guide’s death. Until today.”
“And I was lucky to have Luna protecting me,” Harry said, smiling at his sentinel.
“Well, while those creatures are around, I’d recommend you not to get too far from each other,” Greenfields said. “I’m happy to offer my services to you both as your personal healer. I’ll arrange things with Minerva and Poppy, and… here.”
He rummaged in his trunk for a moment, and came up with two necklaces, matching silvery looking pendants on sturdy chains.
“These are goblin-forged steel. Once you’ve put one on, only you can take it off. The medallions are charmed to notify me of your health and well being and they can’t be warded against or blocked in any way. I will know where you are and how you are until you remove the necklace. If you are attacked, I will know about it immediately.”
“Um,” Harry hesitated, “Would you mind taking an oath first? It’s just that’s a lot of power to have over us, and we don’t actually know you very well.”
“Of course,” Greenfields didn’t seem in the least bit offended. “I was expecting it. Write down your thoughts as to an appropriate oath, and we can discuss it.”
It took them half an hour to agree upon an oath. Harry was delighted when Greenfields took their first draft and pointed out several loopholes that had been left open before showing them how to close them. The tall Healer turned what might have been an awkward moment into an impromptu lesson on the language of oaths, and Luna grew quite animated during the discussion, her eyes bright and shining as she stumped Greenfields with a particularly obscure sounding sentence that when properly decoded gave all power in an oath to the one taking it.
Eventually the oath was written out on legal grade parchment and signed by all three participants. Then Greenfields tapped it twice with his wand, and as he said it would, it disappeared, to be filed in Gringotts archives.
Harry and Luna put their necklaces on, and Harry could immediately feel the link manifest.
“Now, that’s a bit of a surprise. I’ve never had such a strong link with a patient,” Greenfields said. “Mind you, I think I’m a bit immune to shocks for the moment. So tell me, should we get started today or would it be a better idea for me to come back on Saturday?”
“Luna?” Harry asked, only to see his sentinel frowning with her head cocked to one side.
“There are people waiting outside,” she said dreamily. “Lemon drops and peppermints, and… licorice? The peppermint is angry, and so is the lemon drop. The licorice is happy about something.”
“Well, I think we all know who lemon drop is.” Greenfields said dryly as he waved his wand, sending all his gear back into his trunk which closed with a bang, immediately shrinking and flying into the Healer’s hand. “Rather than wait for them to break in, we should stop for now and face them. Not to mention that we’ve all missed dinner. You must be rather hungry, I know I am. Why don’t I take down these privacy spells and we can go and get something to eat?”
Harry and Luna both nodded their assent, and Harry tightened his shields in preparation for the barrage that was soon to come.
Out in the main room, Dumbledore was waiting for them with Minister Fudge and a woman Harry didn’t know. He could tell there were two more people waiting out of sight, but Luna didn’t seem concerned, so they were likely not an immediate threat.
“Ah, there you are Harry,” the Headmaster said, his eyes twinkling merrily.
Harry felt the probe slide off his shields, and by the sharply indrawn breath behind him, so did Healer Greenfields.
“Madam Bones is here to investigate an allegation she received of an attempt made on your life while on the express this afternoon, and Minister Fudge decided to accompany her. I must say, dear boy, that I was rather shocked to find you closeted away behind privacy spells with a healer from St Mungo’s. Surely that reaction was completely over the top? What were you discussing? Healer Greenfields?”
“I’m afraid that information is protected by my oaths, Headmaster.” Greenfields said in a bland tone unlike any Harry had heard from him so far. “Mr Potter and Miss Lovegood have named me their personal healer in accordance with the charter of Hogwarts, so you will need to adjust the wards to allow for me to come through at any time.”
“It is against Hogwarts policy to allow free access to any adults who aren’t members of staff,” Dumbledore began apologetically.
He was interrupted by Madam Bones. “Don’t be ridiculous, Dumbledore. It’s clearly stated in the charter that any student who wishes to engage a private healer may do so, and that so long as the healer is fully qualified, he or she is to be given unfettered, confidential access to their patient. Your personal policies are overridden by the law. If Mr Potter has the gold and the desire for his own personal healer, there is nothing you can do to stop him.”
“Mr Potter is under my magical guardianship, and therefore until his majority it is my place to make these decisions,” Dumbledore said, his voice somewhat chilly.
“Are you my magical guardian sir?” Harry asked. “You weren’t mentioned in my parents Will.” Before Dumbledore could answer, Harry turned to the square-jawed witch accompanying him. “Nice to meet you, Madam Bones. Are you by any chance related to Amelia Susan Bones or Edgar George Bones?”
“I am Amelia Susan Bones. Edgar was my brother,” Madam Bones said, her brows drawing together slightly.
“Then you and your brother were sixth and seventh respectively on the list of guardians appointed for me by my parents.” Harry gave a short bow. “This is my friend and bonded sentinel Luna Lovegood.”
Madam Bones exchanged a mechanical looking nod with Luna before turning on Dumbledore, the edges of her short hair starting to bristle. “What are you playing at Dumbledore? You told the Wizengamot that there was no Will filed!” Bones abruptly turned back to Harry. “Bonded sentinel? That means you’re a guide?”
At Harry’s nod Bones rounded on Fudge, who had been watching Dumbledore’s difficulties with ill disguised glee. “In which case the allegation of attempted murder is an accurate one! You put the last Potter, who happens to be a guide, on a train with dementors? We’re lucky he wasn’t kissed on the spot! You will order those foul creatures away from this school immediately, Minister, do you hear me?”
“But, but what about Black?” Fudge twiddled with his hat, looking deeply uncertain.
“Oh, if Black really hates me as much as you all seem to think he does, he’ll probably head for the bank first,” Harry said innocently.
“What? What on earth makes you say that?” Fudge asked, turning his frown on where Harry was standing with Luna at his side and Healer Greenfields at his back.
“Well, I’m still listed as his sole beneficiary,” Harry replied, opening his eyes wide. “He obviously didn’t have time to change that before he was thrown into prison without a trial. I’m not only the last Potter, but I’m next in line for the Black lordship too.”
“But Lucius told me that his son was going to be the next Lord Black.” Fudge said, sounding a bit lost.
“What do you mean, without a trial?” Madam Bones said. “No! I don’t want to hear from you Dumbledore! The next time I listen to you it will be in front of the Wizengamot, when you explain your blatant lies! In fact, your presence here is no longer required!”
Harry watched with admiration as Dumbledore was herded away from them by a very determined Madam Bones.
“Pardon the interruption, but is there any reason that the rest of this discussion can’t be held in the kitchens?” Greenfields asked before anything else was said. “Miss Lovegood, Mr Potter, and I, have yet to eat this evening and I for one am feeling rather famished.”
As if on cue, Luna’s stomach made a loud gurgling noise. Madam Bones gave a short sharp nod, and led the way out of the hospital wing down to the dungeons. Harry watched with fascination as she stopped before a portrait of a huge silver bowl filled with fruit and tickled the pear, making it giggle and turn into a door knob. She ushered them through the opening behind the portrait-door into a large, spacious kitchen. There were a number of house elves making dishes fly through the air and in and out of large tanks of soapy water, before hurtling into a nearby cupboard.
Harry watched the whole thing, mesmerised by the co-ordination and skill involved. The sound of his name brought his attention back to Madam Bones, and to his surprise a small table had appeared, and was laden with food. He felt himself blushing slightly, but sat with the rest of them and began piling food onto a plate.
“More vegetables, Harry,” Greenfields said as Harry reached for a bowl of steaming yorkshire puddings. Harry looked up to acknowledge the instruction, and realised that Fudge had somehow disappeared.
“Where did Minister Fudge go?” he asked as he obediently added some roasted carrots to his plate.
“He said he has some business to take care of.” Madam Bones said, her mouth in a grim line. “If he knows what’s good for him, he’ll be sending the dementors back to Azkaban. If that’s not done by the time I get back to the Ministry, I’ll arrest him myself. They should never have been allowed near defenceless students, and to discover that you were nearly- Wait! Don’t eat that yet.”
Harry had been just about to take a bite of his dinner when Madam Bones interrupted herself to send spells at all three dinner plates. All three plates glowed green, and Greenfields put his fork down with a sigh, indicating that Harry and Luna should do the same.
“Which is why you should never eat food prepared by others without checking it first,” The stern witch said. “I need to see the elf responsible for doctoring the food.”
A moment later a quiet pop heralded the arrival of one of the small creatures, his hands twisting in his tea towel.
“I is Fomby, miss,” he said nervously. “How can Fomby be helping Bonsey miss?”
“Fomby, I want you to tell me about the potions in the school food.” Bones said with no trace of accusation in her tone.
“Dumbledore gives them to Fomby,” the elf assured her. “They’s for helping young misses and misters to have healthy magic, to make up for bad food in the holidays. Fomby always makes sure every student gets a helping of potion on arrival day.”
“Is the potion in the food or on the plates?” Greenfields asked, looking at his glowing plate piled high with food.
“On plates,” Fomby’s fingers were twisting at his teatowel again. “I’s sorry, Bonsey miss, Fomby wasn’t expecting more students, and was in a hurry and put too much on. All the other plates was washed already.”
“Fomby, as you can probably tell I’m a healer,” Greenfields said, to Fomby’s nervous nodding. “The three of us aren’t in need of any special potions, so could you please take these plates away and bring us some that are clean? Thank you.”
“Oh yes, mister healer, we can feel your oaths in your magic!” Fomby bobbed up and down once more, and snapped his fingers, replacing the loaded plates with empty ones. Luckily there was still plenty of food on the table.
By the time Harry was full, a lot had been discussed. No one had mentioned his shaman status yet, so as far as the Ministry was concerned he was just a guide. So long as Harry maintained the shields Merlin had taught him that’s all they would know until he was ready.
Harry had done a surreptitious empathic reading on Madam Bones and also on both Shacklebolt and Dawlish, the two aurors accompanying her. He was inclined to trust Bones and Shacklebolt — who Harry was interested to note was a latent sentinel — but Dawlish was another matter.
Harry and Luna spoke about Sirius Black, and what they had discovered at the bank. They left out what Lupin had told them about the animagus forms, because if their new professor was right and that was how Black was hiding, they didn’t want him found and accidentally kissed before they could get some answers from him.
Greenfields announced his recommendation that Harry and Luna share quarters and as many classes as could be arranged. Luna offered to take the second year exams to see if she could test into any of Harry’s classes. Bones gave their plan Ministry approval, cutting out a lot of red tape.
Bones sent an elf to get Dumbledore and McGonagall so that arrangements could be made, but only McGonagall arrived. She was already in her tartan dressing gown and received instructions for both Harry and Luna’s new accommodations and Luna’s plans to test into third year with a frown, but Harry felt it wasn’t aimed at him and Luna rather than the work ahead of her.
McGonagall instructed several elves to set up one of the visitors suites on the ground floor for the night, and told Harry and Luna that more permanent arrangements would be made the next day.
Greenfields informed her of his status as Harry and Luna’s private healer, and McGonagall assured him of complete access and confirmed that he would be added to the wards forthwith.
Muttering about Dumbledore’s absence, McGonagall gave a few final instructions to the elves and stalked off. Greenfields’ mouth had acquired a twitch that Harry wasn’t sure he wanted to know about.
“Right then.” Madam Bones said briskly. “I’ll be sending some of my aurors over to guard the place until this Black business is sorted out. I’ll want to talk to the two of you some more at a later date, but I think we’ve all had enough for this evening.”
“And I’ll be here at nine in the morning on Saturday,” Greenfields said as he pushed his plate away. “Be prepared for a long day in the hospital wing, and if you need me before then, you know how to get hold of me.”
By the time Harry and Luna made it to their suite, Harry was exhausted. He said goodnight to Luna and went towards the bedroom on the left. He only had enough energy left to change and crawl into bed before he was fast asleep.
Merlin met them on the spirit plane to find out what happened. To say that he was displeased when he heard that the Ministry had summoned demons on purpose — chained or not — was an understatement.
Luna tried to explain what she had done to the train, but she didn’t need to say much before Merlin started nodding his head.
“Yes, I know the spell you speak of,” he said, eyeing her speculatively. “But it should have been well beyond your capabilities at present, young sentinel. Just how big is this train that you speak of? I’m surprised that you’re still with us, that was an incredibly reckless thing to do!”
“I lent her my magic,” Harry said sharply, not liking the way Luna shrunk back slightly at Merlin’s words.
“No, he’s right Harry.” Luna said, laying her hand on his arm. “I didn’t know what I was doing, I was running on instinct and it could have been disastrous. If you hadn’t woken when you did, we might both have been kissed.”
“What happened next?” Merlin asked, looking tickled pink about something.
Harry let Luna describe Healer Greenfields and Madam Bones, and what had happened with Dumbledore. When Merlin was all caught up, he sat there for a moment stroking his short beard.
“Well,” he said finally, “I think Lupin, Greenfields, and Bones will be useful to you, but don’t make the mistake of completely trusting them and failing to take precautions. Until their betrayal could not hurt you, you must always allow for the possibility of them turning against you. Oh, I’m not saying they’re not trustworthy,” Merlin said, looking at Harry in particular, “but you have to think about your sentinel now. Until she’s fully grown, Luna is vulnerable. It’s not only your own life on the line now, it’s hers too. Do you understand me?”
Harry nodded firmly. He knew that as a shaman-guide, he was able to support any number of sentinels without the need for a bond, but since he had bonded with Luna, her fate was now tied to his. If he died, so would she. And he had no intentions of letting that happen.
Luckily he had Merlin to instruct him on the spirit plane, and a growing number of adults on the tangible plane that so far seemed trustworthy. Harry wasn’t interested in maintaining a friendship with Ron, and Hermione seemed to be having difficulties with the new, more self assertive Harry. Hopefully that friendship would survive, but in the end, Luna was the important one.
In the past, Harry would have died for any of his friends without too much thought. Luna, he would do his very best to live for.
Harry slept through the night with a smile on his face. He finally felt like he mattered.