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I'm not wildly fond of the Harry Potter universe, although there are a few good fanfics based on it. On the whole it's far too limiting in a number of ways. The books are well-written, the movies were mostly amusing, but I've never read most of the former and only seen about two thirds of the latter.

Just generally not my cup of tea, essentially.

That said, this came to me more or less fully fleshed and I couldn't move on until I wrote it. It amused me at any rate. Some people might find it fun, many won't, but such is life.

Learn, therefore, why one should never seriously upset a Lovegood...

It was the first day of June in 1995 when things went badly wrong.

Unusually, the trouble started at the Ravenclaw table, and more unusually, the voice raised in anger was one that was normally calm and gentle. In fact, afterwards, no one could ever recall the small blonde girl having ever raised her voice before at all.

"Give it back!" Luna said firmly, in a tone of command quite unlike her, loudly enough that everyone heard her even over the evening chatter in the Great Hall. People quieted, looking over curiously, as she stood behind a group of fifth-year girls, who were staring at her in a certain degree of shock mixed with smug glee. "It was my mother's, I want it back right now." She held out her hand with determination.

Quite a few people including several of the staff exchanged puzzled glances. The out of character behaviour was somewhat worrying. "Miss Lovegood, is there a problem?" Professor Flitwick called, standing up. Luna didn't look away from the girls, still keeping her hand out expectantly.

"No, Professor, as long as I get my pendant back," she replied politely, staring at the two young women who she seemed to be most interested in. "But I'm sure they're going to do the right thing."

"What are you talking about, Loony?" one of the girls sneered. At the Gryffindor table, a shortish black-haired young man with piercing green eyes behind glasses started to get up, a brown-haired girl beside him quickly grabbing his arm and shaking her head when he looked down, surprised.

"The pendant from my trunk. The gold pendant I locked in there, the one my mother gave me when I was five, the family heirloom that was passed down from Great-great-grandfather Marsh when my mother's family moved back from America in 1847. The pendant you stole." Luna's silvery eyes flashed with an anger no one expected, her voice still firm, but with an undercurrent of danger that made the girl addressed lean away unconsciously.

"I thought we were past all this," the blonde girl added sadly, shaking her head for a moment. "But my shoes kept disappearing. I was willing to overlook that, but I. Want. My. Pendant. Now!"

Nobody could believe that such a tone could come from the young woman everybody had pegged as somewhat weird if quite pleasant. The older girl swallowed slightly, glanced to either side at her friends, then at the staff table, where the teachers were watching with concerned interest, then back at the annoyed blonde. "I don't know what you're talking about, Loony," she bluffed, obviously lying.

Luna stepped back, folding her arms. She studied the girl for a moment. "Oh. I'm sorry, it looks like the Wrackspurts have got to you very badly. I didn't realise how bad it was." Her mood shifted so fast that everyone gaped. Now she was smiling in her normal somewhat detached manner. "It's not an excuse, though. You should know by now not to steal other people's things."

"Are you calling me a thief?" the other girl demanded shrilly. Luna nodded with a vacant smile.

"Yes, but perhaps you can't help it. Weak minded people with Wrackspurt infestations as bad as yours can be easily led to do silly things."

The fifth-year jumped to her feet, leaning forward with a red face, her dark-haired friend doing the same and crowding the smaller, younger girl. "Shut up, Loony, just stop talking about your imaginary creatures. Go away and stop bothering us."

Unmoved Luna simply watched as the girl shouted, although now Professor Snape, who was nominally in charge of the Hall this evening since Dumbledore and McGonagall were away for the day, was standing and looking even more irritated with the universe in general than usual. "Miss Edgecombe, Miss Lovegood, enough. Both of you come here. You too, Miss Brockehurst." He pointed at the three girls in question, then at the floor in front of the staff table. Luna nodded and made her way over without any apparent care in the world, smiling a little, while the other two exchanged glances then glumly followed. The entire hall was quiet now, everyone present watching the drama with interest, a few giggles coming from various places. Several of the people on the Griffindor table were glaring at the two fifth-years as were a few of the Hufflepuffs.

"Now, ladies, if you wouldn't mind explaining why you see fit to disturb my meal with this childish behaviour, I would be most grateful," Snape snarled, not looking like he'd ever been grateful for anything in his life. Luna tilted her head to one side and stared wide-eyed at him for a moment as the other two Ravenclaws flushed slightly.

"Perhaps our behaviour is childish because we're children, Professor?" she mused out loud, apparently thinking deeply. Snape's lips thinned while Flitwick stifled a chuckle, covering it with a small cough. Professor Sprout smiled a little then looked quickly away when Snape turned his glare in her direction at the sound of the diminutive Ravenclaw's Head of House clearing his throat.

"Indeed, Miss Lovegood, that might explain it," the half-goblin said, trying not to smile at one of his favourite pupils. "However, I believe that what Professor Snape means is that this behaviour is uncharacteristic, especially from you, and he'd like to know what's behind it."

"Oh." Luna smiled widely at him. "He should have said so." She turned back to the Potions Professor who was lightly gritting his teeth. "They took my mother's pendant. I want it back."

"Do you have proof of this accusation?" he asked darkly, studying her for a moment then turning his glare on the other two girls who paled slightly. Luna sighed audibly, shaking her head.

"I didn't see them do it but I know they did," she replied, looking at her house-mates, who glared at her. "I thought it was Nargles at first, but some deductive reasoning showed that was unlikely since Nargles are allergic to gold."

The red-blonde girl next to her snorted loudly. "Another made up creature." Luna glanced at her with her normal slightly blank expression, then shook her head.

"They're all real, I'm afraid. It's all the Wrackspurts in your ears that are interfering with your thinking ability. We really must work out how to get them out of you both. It would probably help with your kleptomaniac tendencies as well." The other girl went red, opening her mouth.

"Enough!" Snape nearly shouted the word. Pinching the bridge of his nose he closed his eyes for a moment. "Miss Edgecombe. Did you or Miss Brockehurst take this pendant Miss Lovegood claims is missing?" The two fifth-years glanced at each other, then looked at the professor. They shook their heads.

"No, Professor, we've never seen it," the girl replied smugly. "Loony is always making things up. Just listen to her."

Flitwick looked annoyed, speaking before Snape had a chance to say anything. "Miss Edgecombe, you will not insult your house-mates like that, or anyone else for that matter. If I hear you refer to Miss Lovegood by that name again I will be seeing you for detention and you will lose points. Do you understand?"

She nodded, still smirking a little, not looking all that repentant. "Yes, Professor. Sorry, Professor."

Snape sighed, waiting for her to stop speaking while giving his colleague an unfriendly, or in other words, entirely normal, look. "Miss Lovegood, these two young women claim to have no knowledge of the alleged theft. Without proof there is not much that can be done, even presuming that this pendant of yours actually exists in the first place. Return to your table and stop causing a disruption."

"What do you mean by that, Professor?" Luna asked politely, but with an edge to her voice that made him, and everyone else, look at her closely. "Are you implying that I'm making up my mother's pendant, or making up the fact that they took it?"

"I am implying nothing, Miss Lovegood," Snape snapped. Or Snaped, possibly. Pointing at the Ravenclaw table he added in a tone of finality, "Return to your seat. If you can provide proof of any theft refer it to Professor Flitwick, but until that time, I will have order in the Hall during meals. Do you understand?"

She stared at him for several seconds without saying anything. "Oh, dear," the blonde finally replied sadly, "I see the Wrackspurts are having a lot of fun tonight. You have a very bad infestation indeed." She tipped her head to the side again and looked at him from this new viewpoint. "It certainly explains why you are always so grumpy."

"Five points from Ravenclaw for insubordination," the greasy man growled. "Go and sit down before I give detention as well. I tire of listening to your babble about imaginary creatures, as does everyone else. You only have yourself to blame for the way your associates behave, I expect, so we'll hear no more of this."

At the Griffindor table the green-eyed boy had paled with anger, his friends having to hold him in place and discreetly relieve him of his wand, which had ended up in his hand under the table. The bushy-haired girl was watching both him and the drama at the head table with wide, worried eyes. Professor Flitwick was under no such restraint.

"Severus, that is completely unfair," he protested loudly. "Miss Lovegood is neither a troublemaker or a liar."

"She is a moderately intelligent yet uninspired young woman with questionable taste in friends," the Potions master retorted, sitting down again and picking up his fork. "Her constant prattling about invisible animals is very annoying. Her mother was the same, her head in the clouds, despite her otherwise admirable qualities. I fear that same attitude may have led to her unfortunate demise."

It took several seconds before he realised that something was wrong. Looking away from the visibly furious diminutive Head of Ravenclaw he met the eyes of the small blonde, which were fixed on him with an intensity that made him momentarily uncertain. At the Griffindor table the green-eyed boy had gone completely still, radiating disbelief and a level of rage that was making his friends edge away, the red-headed boy quickly hiding his compatriots wand behind his back. Everyone in the hall had stopped anything else and were watching in fascination.

"Don't be rude about my mother, Professor Snape," Luna said in a very quiet voice, her cheeks paler than normal except for a pair of red patches. No one could ever recall seeing her genuinely angry but there was no denying that was exactly what she currently now was. It was peculiarly unnerving. "And please stop telling me that I'm making things up. That's rude too and shows someone with a very inflexible mind."

Snape himself paled in anger. "Twenty points from Ravenclaw," he shouted. "I'll have none of this behaviour. Go back to your table and sit down." He shook his head for a second. "Potter is a bad influence on you. I would suggest steering clear of the boy in future."

"You're doing it again," Luna replied softly. "Being very rude. The Wrackspurts must have been nibbling on your brain for years to make you so unpleasant."

Jumping to his feet in fury, his robes billowing around him dramatically, Snape pointed at the Ravenclaw table with a trembling finger. Both the fifth-years had backed away, not wanting to get caught in the sudden and unusual battle of wills, although they were watching with glee as one of their own faced off against a man no one liked. Nobody present could believe that Luna was acting like this, except for a small number of people who knew her well enough to realise that beneath the detached exterior was a person with a very strong will.

"Be quiet, sit down, and cease your incessant ravings, Miss Lovegood," he growled, "Another twenty points from Ravenclaw."

"Severus!" Flitwick yelled. "That is completely unwarranted. Apologise to Miss Lovegood immediately for insulting her mother or I will report you to Professor Dumbledore when he returns."

Snape turned a dangerous look in his colleague's direction. "I will not apologise to a student under any circumstances." His voice was dangerous and low. "Especially this one."

"Do you suppose it's the fact that you were marked by Voldemort that attracts the Wrackspurts so much?" Luna mused in a thoughtful voice, making him freeze, then go purple. "I suspect that sort of thing would make a person produce so many negative thoughts that they'd find it very welcoming. I'm very sorry, Professor, but I don't think anything can be done about it by now." She smiled slightly at him, not in a nice way. Three quarters of the hall had either yelped or sucked in a breath when she'd said the name, although the green-eyed Griffindor was now obviously hiding giggles while several of his own housemates were staring in astounded respect.

"Lovegood! That does it. A week's detention, and another fifty points. I will not have anyone, never mind a deluded little idiot of a student, insult me in that manner. Take your stupid made up creatures and sit down!" He nearly screamed the last word, spittle covering his food and making Luna wrinkle her nose, which seemed to infuriate him even more. She was looking quietly furious herself although hiding it well. Flitwick opened his mouth to shout at his supposed colleague, losing any little hint of respect he had for the man, when she suddenly laughed lightly.

"I'm truly sorry you don't believe in them, Professor," she giggled. "I could show you, but I promised Mother I wouldn't. The spell is dangerous."

"What the hell are you babbling about now?" he roared. "What spell?"

"Oh, my mother taught me an old family spell that makes things like Wrackspurts visible to people who can't normally see them," she replied, still smiling, but with an undercurrent of irritation that was beginning to worry Flitwick. It was eerie and unexpected from the young lady, not at all normal. Something she'd said earlier was also beginning to ring a very vague but somewhat alarming bell way at the back of his mind. What was it?

"I doubt your mother was capable of teaching you any dangerous spells," Snape said dismissively, still an unpleasant colour. "She was more gifted than I have any reason to believe you are. But, if you feel you can prove it, far be it from me to prevent you. Please, proceed." He gestured sarcastically at the hall. "Show us your imaginary friends and be done with it."

"They're not really friends." Luna shrugged delicately. "I can sort of see them but they can't see me. The spell is dangerous because it makes them visible, but also makes us visible to them. More than normal, anyway. That's what Mother told me. She said it could cause problems, they can be nasty. Especially Wrackspurts. You should never make a Wrackspurt angry."

Calming down a little, Snape replied sarcastically, "Ah. I see. A convenient excuse. So I expect we won't be seeing any great demonstration of family magic tonight."

"Do you want me to show you?" she asked politely.

"If you believe you can, go right ahead," he invited, sitting down and propping his elbows on the table with his chin on his steepled fingers. "Entertain us."

She looked slowly around the hall, then up at the ceiling, before turning back to him.

"All right."

Everyone watched as she took a few steps back, then seemed to remember something, pulling her wand from behind her ear where it habitually rested and walking over to her head of house. "I'll just leave this here, Professor Flitwick," she said with a smile, before returning to her previous position. He looked at it, puzzled, then her.

"Are you not going to require your wand, Miss Lovegood?" Snape enquired nastily. "Generally speaking wands are a very important part of spell-casting, you realise."

"Oh, this type of magic doesn't use a wand, Professor," she replied airily. "It's much older than that. Wands can be very dangerous, they act as a lure, you see. It's best not to be holding one, just in case. You should put yours on the table as well to be safe."

"I will do no such thing," he snorted in disbelief.

"Okay," she said, for all the world happily. "If you're sure. I've always wanted to see what happens." Taking up a position fifteen feet from the table she put her feet a little apart, then raised her hands. Flitwick along with the other teachers watched curiously, the half-goblin still wondering what about the last ten minutes was bothering him, aside from the gross unpleasantness of the Potions master. "Once I start I have to finish or bad things might happen. Please don't interrupt me," she added, before closing her eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Snape sneered.

At the Griffindor table, the green-eyed boy was watching closely, intrigued, while the bushy-haired girl was looking thoughtful, a very similar expression on her face to that which Flitwick was currently showing. After a moment she carefully took her wand from her robes and put it on the table. Just in case.

Opening one eye Luna suddenly asked, "Are you really sure you want me to do the spell, Professor?" she enquired.

"Just get on with it so we can all finish eating, Miss Lovegood," he snapped irritably.

She nodded, closing the eye again. Flitwick turned to Professor Sprout and asked quietly, "Pomona, can you remember where Luna's mother's ancestors came from? Something she said is bothering me, I'm sure I've heard the name Marsh before. And that date is slightly familiar as well."

"I think it was somewhere on the east coast of the Americas," the woman replied quietly, not taking her eyes from the small blonde who seemed to be concentrating hard. "Innsbrook? Something like that, I think, but I can't remember exactly. Why?"

"Innsbrook?" Flitwick repeated slowly. His eyes widened after a couple of seconds. "Or... was it... Innsmouth?"

"That's it," Sprout nodded.

"Oh, fuck," the tiny man whispered in horror, realisation coming too late, causing the woman beside him to stare at him in shock.

Luna began speaking even as he said it.

The first liquid syllables slipping from her lips sent an atavistic chill down every spine in the huge room, the language far older than humanity itself. Disturbing on a fundamental level, completely alien, it sounded unlike anything that anyone had ever heard before, the inhuman sounds spreading across the abruptly otherwise entirely silent room. A few ghosts lurking near the ceiling instantly disappeared into the stonework, never to be seen again. Unlike normal sounds her speech had a flat tone to it akin to the effect of a balloon popping in a heavy snowstorm, the sounds not echoing but dying away as if absorbed by something unseen.

Only two people in the room recognised the language. Professor Flitwick went a pale green colour, betraying his half-goblin heritage, as the words continued to spill from the small girl, the language resonating with him through that very nature. He knew it, somehow, not the words, but the sound, something deep inside him recognising a thing that belonged to a time deep in the history of the world, far back beyond the birth of either goblins or humans, before their shared beginnings split from the shared ancestry of whatever proto-human ape existed long, long before language itself did. It predated civilization, or magic, or technology, older than writing, or paintings on walls of caves deep in the cold ground.

It was a language that was ancient long before anything currently living on the planet existed in a form wherein even the beginnings of intelligence flickered, one that died out far back in prehistory, before life dragged itself out of the muck of an early world and gazed at the stars.

She continued talking, the words, not that they were truly recognisable as such, spilling out and somehow bringing with them the conflicting sensations of both the cold between the galaxies and warm antediluvian seas swimming with hideous creatures that nothing alive could claim kinship with. The corners of the room darkened, a number of torches guttering out, candles extinguishing themselves in a curl of smoke. Shocked and worried, wizards and witches of all ages looked around, huddling in their robes as the ancient language, one that no one in the world past a scattered handful of people with a certain specific ancestry had ever encountered, continued to flow. She had begun in a low voice, both in volume and tone, producing a sound that was much deeper than anyone would have expected from the small figure.

Now it was becoming louder, as her spell, or prayer, or entreaty to unknown beings, grew in strength. Flitwick pushed himself back in his chair, huddling with his arms around himself as the sound rose in strength. She was radiating a type of magic that no one recognised, the power building slowly but remorselessly. Every living being in the room felt the effect, something running cold fingers through their soul, for want of a better description, something to which humanity was a mere aberration, irrelevant in the grand scheme of the universe. Glancing around the assembled multitude shivered as the lighting dimmed, a presence growing, some great creature or creatures being revealed for the first time in unknowable years.

The illusion on the ceiling faded steadily, but revealed when it finally vanished was not the stonework of the castle, but a view of a sky that belonged to nowhere on earth, pallid stars forming unrecognisable constellations, past clouds radiating unclean light, reflecting the output of some hideous sun hidden beyond the walls. Somehow, they could all tell it was no illusion, no synthetic reality due to clever spells and cantrips, it was a true view of a scene no human should gaze upon. As the words continued, the walls between the columns around the room were, one by one, replaced with the same view, affording all the ability to look out on a glutinous sea lit by that same dying star low on the horizon. Things were in the water, not visible directly, but the slow rolling waves that moved with definite intent through the glistening viscous fluid betrayed their presence.

Luna opened her eyes, a smile on her face that made everyone able to see it shudder, one that belonged not to a fourteen year old human girl, but one that would have been more at home on some creature of the deep as it flowed towards its next meal. Her eyes were actually glowing, with an inner light unlike anything they had ever encountered. She didn't appear to see them as she looked around, following the movements of things still beyond their ken, above their heads, but whatever she was looking at seemed to amuse her.

Unfolding himself slightly, shuddering as if he was soaked in freezing water, Professor Flitwick reached into his robes and managed to grasp his wand, pulling it out and convulsively dropping it on the table, before curling up into a ball again. Beside him, Professor Sprout, who was shivering in fear, almost unable to move and not understanding in any way what was happening, nevertheless watched, then for reasons she could later never explain, did the same, both wooden tools rolling across the surface.

At the Griffindor table, Hermione Granger, the only other person in the entire castle who had any concept of what was happening, her eyes dark in a white face, poked her green-eyed companion in the ribs hard enough to bruise, nodding to her wand on the table and unable to speak. He managed to tear his own fascinated eyes from the spectacle for long enough to follow hers, then looked to his red-headed friend and gently pulled both his own wand, which the lad was holding in a shivering fist, and the boy's one which was in his other hand, placing them both down on the table. A small wave of motion radiated from him as one by one each of the others seated with him saw and duplicated the action. Across the room, at the other tables, most of the students had either done the same or were in the process of doing it. Many of the Slytherins didn't, most of them either shivering in horror or holding onto their focii desperately as if some mere human tool could help. Oddly enough, one Draco Malfoy had seen what the Griffindors had done and had followed suit immediately.

He was a vicious bigoted little man, but he wasn't actually stupid.

Snape, on the other hand, was. Not in pure intellect, certainly, but he had poor survival skills when faced with something outside his experience. It was a common trait in wizards, admittedly, common sense not being particularly well selected for in their world, but even in those terms he tended to react in a way that was unwise at times. This was one of those times.

He was holding onto his wand with a grip of steel, looking around with wide horrified eyes as the blonde girl somehow changed the reality of the hall with her words, not through anything he recognised as a spell, but in a way that was undeniably powerful. Unable for the moment to think what else to do he was hanging onto his wand as if to a lifeline in stormy seas, pointing it uncertainly at the corners of the room as the shadows encroached.

Luna's spell went on without respite, the small figure somehow managing to speak without apparent need to pause or take a breath. A wind had picked up almost unnoticeably, blowing around the room and rustling the various papers some students had with them, carrying with it a smell like a swamp, billions of single celled organisms slowly and patiently decaying away.

Down in the kitchens, hundreds of house elves were standing still as stone, their eyes fixed in a direction that would intersect the great hall and, if one were to somehow determine this exactly, the figure of Luna Lovegood. Less than a minute after she began speaking every last one of them blinked out existence. There would be no house elf seen in Hogwarts for over a week.

Outside, the merfolk were swimming as fast as possible in a line leading directly away from the castle, having abandoned their possessions without a second thought, heading for the secret ways beneath the mountains that ultimately lead to the sea, ways known only to them. The giant squid had risen from the depths of the lake and was floating on the surface, one immense eye tilted towards the castle with invertebrate awe, something deep within calling to it, something ancient and unknowable. Tentacles rose from the water and made strange shapes in the air before it suddenly rolled over and dived, jetting after the merfolk. In its own inhuman way it decided that it had urgent business elsewhere.

The forbidden forest had gone totally quiet. Every intelligent magical creature in it had stopped whatever they were doing and appeared to listen, the centaurs first, then the rest. Shortly they were moving away, some faster than others but all aware that something was happening that was unwise to be near. Something that none of them understood but all of them feared.

A tiny scream of horror finally came from the lips of a girl at the Hufflepuff table, no one particularly important, but the first to notice. Eyes swivelled in her direction, then followed her pointing finger to Snape, widening as they saw a faint glimmer of translucency near his head. He himself stared back at the faces staring at him, before whipping his head around wildly to see what they were looking at, unsuccessfully.

There were sounds now, dripping noises faintly echoing from the walls as if water was leaking somewhere, a distant slow slithering of sluggish waves rolling across a beach that was old past knowing. The swamp-like smell had grown stronger and been joined with a faint scent of fish, drifting in from somewhere else. The view past the walls showed ruins of some ancient structure, great blocks of dark stone covered in slime as if they had risen from abyssal depths, forming the remains of some huge building which seemed to join the castle in a manner that defied explanation. The shapes of the blocks and the walls that they made hurt the eyes, they formed angles that shouldn't exist, wavering in and out of visual range in an unpleasant manner. Luna tipped her head back and spread her arms wide, ending her chant with a great shout, which some would eventually put into English as "Dagon!"

There was a silence, anticipatory and feral, before the sound of some huge distant bell tolled once, rolling across the castle and making the stones tremble. Everyone twitched en masse, a number of people silently sliding to the floor as their minds simply shut down. Lowering her still glowing eyes from the unforgiving alien sky from which the stars watched with cold indifference, she smiled at Snape. He shuddered, unconsciously pointing his wand at her, an action she ignored completely.

"Do you see them, Professor?" she asked, her voice gentle and disturbingly normal after the long chant in some ancient tongue. "They see you."

He stared, his black eyes wide, then slowly looked around, as did everyone else. Reaching the figure of the Edgecombe girl, who was clinging to her friend and shaking with fear, he stopped, eyes widening even more.

Floating above her he could see what he could only describe as something not entirely unlike a small nearly transparent jellyfish, a globular pulsating body with dangling tentacle-like protrusions, one of which disappeared into the unfortunate young woman's ear. He gaped, then looked around, seeing more and more of the things around the room, at least a quarter of the students having one or more in their vicinity. Some were the size of an apple, some as big as a large pumpkin. He had no words to describe the colour of the things, it was something that couldn't be captured by mere human language, but it was something he'd seen in nightmares.

Luna watched with interest as he looked about. Everyone else was doing the same, some of them whimpering in fear, a few wildly trying to touch the creatures with no luck, their hands going through the things as if they didn't exist. As the seconds ticked past the transparency of the unknown creatures slowly became less and less, giving the impression that the things were coming more fully into the reality they all inhabited. "Those are Wrackspurts," the blonde explained helpfully. "I'm very pleased, I've never seen them so well." She moved closer to the Edgecombe girl, who leaned away with a horrified expression but didn't seem to be able to otherwise move. Reaching out curiously the Ravenclaw extended a finger and poked at the thing hovering in the air above her house-mate, giggling when it batted at her with a couple of tentacles, which she seemed to be able to feel. "They're sort of cute, when you can see them properly."

Moving back as everyone still conscious stared at her in disbelief, she returned her attention to Snape, studying him with interest. After a moment she redirected her gaze to a point a couple of feet above his head. "Oh, look, I was right. That one must have been feeding on you for a very long time." Staring at her for several seconds, he eventually, and with visible reluctance, tipped his head back to look up. His face went grey in horror at the sight of one of the alien jellyfish nearly three feet across hanging above him, tentacles dropping from it and slowly squirming around, one of them curving around in a manner that made it abundantly clear the end was in his right ear. He suddenly fancied he could feel something deep inside his head wiggling around, a cry of revulsion coming unbidden from his throat as he raised his wand and instinctively shouted an incantation.

A jet of red light came from the end of the wand, passing through the thing without effect and disappearing into the alien sky above them. Luna giggled. "You can't hurt them with a stunner, silly professor."

Throwing himself across the table and rolling to his feet, Snape fired more stunners at both the creature still floating above him, then a few more he saw. The only result was a couple of students gently slumping when his aim was less than ideal. Luna kept watching with apparent mild amusement. Eventually she waved to him. "Professor? You really shouldn't keep doing that, you might attract something worst than a Wrackspurt. Even if you don't you'll make them angry sooner or later."

He glared at her, panting, then pointed a trembling wand in her direction. "End this illusion NOW!" he shouted. "I don't know how you did it but make it stop. And two hundred points from Ravenclaw."

Tipping her head to one side she peered owlishly at him. "What illusion?" she asked curiously. He waved his other hand around violently.

"THIS one. None of this is real. It's all in our heads, obviously, it can't be real. Dispel it immediately or I'll see you expelled."

With a small laugh she shook her head. "There's no illusion, professor. My mother's ancient family spell lets you see the truth of things. This is real."

"It CAN'T be real," he screamed, firing a series of spells wildly at the thing tethered to him. She giggled again. Furious, he pointed his wand at her again and fired a stunner at her without a word, then gaped as it swerved around her and vanished into the back of the hall.

"How... How did you do that?" he gasped, while her schoolmates stared in shock.

"I didn't do anything," she replied, frowning slightly at him. "And that was very rude." Her slightly glowing eyes narrowed, making him take a step back. "You shouldn't attack people like that."

The student body, with few exceptions, were quietly panicking, but having seen a vivid demonstration of how useless their wands seemed to be had mostly refrained from following the example of the potions professor. A couple of seventh-year Slytherins had tried several spells with no more luck than Snape and were now hiding under their table, which mirrored at least a dozen other students across the room. Flitwick, who was still shivering, had managed to pull himself together sufficiently to uncurl and raise his head, watching the interaction between the Lovegood girl and Snape with horrified awe.

'Why did I never see it before?' he wondered numbly. 'Yellow hair. Protuberant eyes with a strange silvery effect. Her ancestors were those Marshes. I thought that family died out after the purge in 1928, but her mother's relatives obviously moved back before then.' He was recalling stories he'd read, stories that had kept him awake for days when he found out they weren't just the work of some odd Muggle author but were based on reality.

Clearing his throat, which took a couple of attempts, he finally managed to say out loud, and with respectful worry, "Miss Lovegood, I think you've made your point. Would it be possible to reverse this spell now, please?"

She looked at him, then at Snape. "Do you think Professor Snape believes in Wrackspurts now, Professor Flitwick?" she asked politely.

He nodded a little. "I think everyone believes in Wrackspurts now, Miss Lovegood, despite wishing desperately that they didn't."

"That's nice," the girl replied happily. Snape was still frantically waving a hand trying to somehow grab the tentacle of the floating horror above him, which she seemed to find funny. "The spell will end by itself very soon. It's best if we let it run out, if it's stopped early it could be bad."

They all stared at her. "Define bad," Flitwick asked slowly. She shrugged.

"Just... bad."

"Ah." He looked around, shuddering as a gust of wind brought the smell of ancient seabed to his nose. "And this isn't bad?"

"Oh, no, this is quite interesting," she informed him, looking up at the sky again. "I've never seen these stars before. Oh, look, that set there looks like the entrails of a frog. Should we give it a name?"

Deciding that he'd never genuinely understood quite how unusual the young woman's mind actually was, he refrained from saying anything, which didn't really take much effort under the circumstances. After a moment, though, he enquired, "How long will it be, if you don't mind me asking?"

"Only a few more minutes unless someone does something silly." She looked around, before walking closer to the wall behind the staff table and pointing at the oily sea. "I wonder what those taste like?" she asked curiously. He looked, as did everyone who still had their eyes open, then wished he hadn't. The... thing... slipped back under the water, making him greatly relieved.

"I suspect they're not edible," he managed to say in a trembling voice.

"Hmm. Pity, I like calamari. There were a lot of tentacles though, weren't there?" she said in a worryingly normal tone. Everyone nodded as one.

"Enough!" Snape roared in rage, striding over to her and grabbing her by the arm. "End this insanity immediately."

Luna winced a little. "Ow, Professor, you're hurting me. Please stop it."

Shaking her a few times, he stuck his face a few inches away from hers. "END. IT." he grated, his voice dangerous.

She looked up. "Oh dear. I think you're making it angry, Professor. You should calm down."

"You little idiot, what the hell are yo..." That was as far as he got before something wrapped around his neck and pulled. Gasping for breath he released her then fumbled for whatever was nearly strangling him. Looking up he saw that the floating monstrosity was swelling, changing colour in a way that made his bladder shrink. Wildly he fired more spells at it, croaking the incantations through a constricted throat.

Nothing worked.

Eventually, in a blind panic, he said two words that resulted in a virulent green streak of magic leaving his wand and passing through the alien creature, which twitched and released him. He dropped to the floor and sucked in air, on hands and knees, while everyone watched in shock. "You're really not supposed to use that spell, I think, Professor Snape. It's illegal."

He raised his head and glared at her with hatred in his eyes. She met them with a mildly curious look. "Do I look like I care, Miss Lovegood?"

The girl shook her head. "No, not really. But I think that was a mistake. I did warn you. Now you've really annoyed it and others have noticed as well." She stepped backwards a few paces, not in any great hurry. Standing, he glared at her with incandescent fury, his obvious terror being pushed to one side for the moment.

"I'm going to see you in Azkaban for this, you little freak," he snarled. She was peering upwards over his shoulder, not apparently paying attention, but after a few seconds, sighed softly.

"I don't think you are, Professor," she replied gently. "I'm sorry, but you were warned." The girl moved back further. He stared, then looked around, aware that all the whimpers and cries of terror had suddenly gone quiet, every person in the room who was still awake and sane looking in the same direction, at something behind and above him. With a thrill of terror he very slowly turned around and followed their eyes, going a very unhealthy colour in the process.

Above the walls of the Great Hall, looking down at him, was something... enormous. Almost indescribable, parts of it seemed to disappear off into unknowable dimensions, while others were unpleasantly and most definitely real. Its glistening outer skin betrayed the fact that it had recently been immersed, as did the waft of unclean seas that drifted from it. Eyes the size of his head flicked around, studying the tiny lifeforms staring in absolute horror at it, cold alien curiosity leaking from them. He screamed in terror and raised his wand, getting off to his credit half a dozen killing curses before a huge tentacle reached in and wrapped around him several times, yanking him off his feet and into the air.

Screams rent the air as the paralysing fear caused by the appearance of the thing was broken by this action. A number of Slytherins began firing spells at it, none of them having the slightest effect, until a blonde fifth-year shouted loudly for them to stop, his terrified voice wavering. Several Gryffindors, the ones that weren't hiding under the table, made moves towards their own wands, only to stop when the green-eyed boy said something in a low voice.

Flitwick watched in horror as the ghastly creature experimentally prodded the captive Snape with another tentacle, holding him carefully and peering at him with alien eyes, before the one he was wrapped in whipped upwards and away out of sight too quickly to follow. There was a muffled scream, cut off half way. He swallowed hard, trembling, glancing at Professor Sprout, who had quietly fainted. The hall went quiet again, anticipatory dread running through them all as they waited for the thing to reach back into the building.

Instead, Luna said something in that weird, liquid language, the creature looking down at her, then reaching out with a tentacle, surprisingly carefully, to touch her with the end. A reply was given, the language the same but in a voice that made them squirm in shock, strange resonances exerting a pressure on their minds that caused several more students to faint. She replied, then nodded respectfully as the thing made a motion with its tentacle, before withdrawing. The eyes passed their cold gaze over the humans once more before it pulled back, disappearing behind the wall again. Luna waved as it vanished.

Silence fell once more, broken by sobbing from one girl who was rocking back and forth on her seat at the Ravenclaw table, her arms wrapped around her legs, shaking her head slowly and whispering to herself. Several other students were staring at the ground, unmoving. The small blonde girl turned to Flitwick, smiling. "Wasn't that nice. He agreed to let everyone else go when he found out how tasty death eaters were." The Charms professor nodded weakly.

Seconds later, there was a distant sound of a bell tolling once more, and the whole room creaked loudly. With an almost audible snap the normal Great Hall popped back into existence around them, all the candles relighting themselves one by one. He shuddered in relief, realising to his embarrassment that his robes were somewhat damp. Looking around he could see that he wasn't alone in this.

"There we go. I said it would run out soon. Wasn't that interesting? I always wondered what the spell would do, Mother wouldn't let me try it at home. I don't think anyone has tried it for a long time. I must tell Father my observations. Perhaps he can write an article for the Quibbler about it." She smiled vacantly at him, her eyes no longer glowing in that unnerving fashion, but he got the very distinct impression she was laughing at them all. Turning away the girl walked over to the two other Ravenclaws who had precipitated the entire event, whatever it really was, and held out her hand. Both of them were still clutching each other, having dropped to their knees sobbing, but the reddish-blonde girl reached into her robe and extracted a rather disturbing-looking gold pendant on a chain and handed it over with a trembling hand, not saying anything.

"Thank you," Luna said brightly. She held up the pendant and studied it, then put it around her neck. "Please leave my things alone from now on." Both girls nodded convulsively, not meeting her eyes.

Turning back to the staff table and retrieving her wand, which she put back behind her ear, she smiled happily. "Everything worked out quite well, didn't it, Professor Flitwick. And I even got my pendant back." He stared at her for a long few seconds. Her expression suddenly became thoughtful, then slightly guilty, which made his heart sink.

"Oops," she mumbled.

"Miss Lovegood?" he asked, dreading the answer. "Why... Oops?"

"I just thought of something," she replied slowly. "He said Death Eaters tasted nice. There may be a problem with that."

"Which is?" Flitwick shuddered again as his mind's eye had a sudden recollection of something that no human, or near human, should see.

"Well, it's possible that the spell I used might have left traces that he could use to sort of... find more?" she said quietly, looking more guilty. "I may have said we had a lot of them."

"Ah." He stared at her, while at the Griffindor table, the green-eyed boy, who had been listening intently, suddenly started laughing wildly, his friends joining in. "Is it likely that... He... will find the taste of anything or anyone else to his liking?"

She thought for a moment, then shrugged. "Probably not, I think. He said there was something about that mark Voldemort left that was really interesting." Her eyes widened. "Ooh. Do you think that means he'd find Voldemort even more tasty? Like the way apple pie is nice, but adding cinnamon makes it better?" Her innocent look made him stare hard, slight suspicions knocking on the back of his mind even through the gradually subsiding fear. There was something in her eyes...

"I suppose it's not impossible," he mused, very slowly picking up his wand and tucking it away. He looked over to the Griffindor table where the Potter boy was in paroxysms of laughter, most of the hall staring at him or her alternately, pale-faced still.

"I could do the spell again and ask him," she offered, making everyone suddenly go still and silent.

"NO!" Flitwick coughed slightly, then added more quietly, "No, thank you, Miss Lovegood, I think it's best not to repeat that particular experience. Ever." She looked mildly disappointed but nodded agreeably.

"If you say so, Professor."

"Thank you." He watched as she skipped happily back to the Ravenclaw table, sitting down and not apparently noticing as she was given a very wide berth, everyone else ending up at the other end of the table and watching her like someone who's just realised they're covered in steak sauce and have woken in a lion pit with a lion peering at them a bit peckishly.

"Ooh, cherry tart. I love cherry tart," she exclaimed, taking possession of a plateful of the dessert and picking up a fork.

After a long moment, he said, "Five hundred points to Ravenclaw," then went off to change his robes.

A number of things happened in the aftermath of that memorable event.

Professor Flitwick debated assigning a three foot essay on 'Why we must never summon Great Old Ones at Dinnertime, or for that matter, Ever,' but in the end went out and got very drunk instead.

St Mungo's had a record influx of patients, many of whom developed incurable phobias of anything with tentacles or a fishy smell.

Within a month, about three hundred and seventy-five people, almost all of them male, mostly from wealthy pure-blood families, and in critical places in government and society, mysteriously vanished, often from locked rooms. The only trace found was the occasional scent of some dark sea, which made people who smelled it have weird nightmares they were very grateful not to remember on awakening.

Harry Potter had some very odd dreams, one of which caused him to wake up with a memory of some sudden pain, only to find his scar bleeding a little. Over the next few weeks it healed up nicely and was soon barely visible.

The goblins never spoke of what happened in a particular vault, but had to replace a dragon which had gone catatonic.

He-who-must-not-be-named was never heard of again.

And, oddly enough, that was the last time anyone ever teased Luna Lovegood.