A/N: This story was started a bit before 'Master of Death'. Starts out with Hermione in the summer after GoF. Somehow all my OCs are called John. I will work on this story in between some of the Chapters of 'Master of Death'.
Disclaimer: It belongs to J.K. Rowling. All but the plot and John.
It had been a long day at the local library for Hermione. While on the summer holidays, she always tried to keep up with the things she would have learned in muggle school. After being all but thrown out by the librarian, she turned to walk home. As it was a mild summer and she liked to think while walking, Hermione didn't deem it necessary to bother her parents to pick her up.
She was walking trough a rather dark passageway between two buildings, when she heard steps behind her. The sound roused her from her thoughts and she hastened her own gait to get through the passage before the person behind her could catch up.
'If only Harry were here.' The thought came unbidden and she almost stopped mid-step. Recently her thoughts seemed to center more around her male friend, than they had before. She didn't know why, she had liked Victors attention last year around, but that seemed to be geared toward satisfying her budding teenage hormones.
Harry had never shown any romantic interest in her, the only girl he seemed to fancy was, of course, the beautiful and exotic Cho Chang. She knew that her other friend, Ron, had interest in her, at least he didn't want her to be with anybody else. He had been extremely jealous of Victor Krum, when he had taken her to the Yule Ball. She also didn't like the thought of being a kind of fail-safe for him, so he wouldn't be alone if he "couldn't land someone better".
She had almost reached the end of the passageway, when a man stepped from the shadows and stopped her with his body, Hermione bumped into him, excused herself and went to walk around him as he grabbed her by the arm.
'Now I really wish Harry was here.' She went to grab her wand, found her pocket empty and remembered leaving it on her nightstand, so she wouldn't accidentally use it.
'Damn...Why did I do that? I am a witch god damn it!'
"Hey there Beautiful! Don't go already, we could have a party you and I...and a few of my friends of course."
The man was strong and twisted her arms on her back. Hermione felt sick from the implications he veiled so very thinly in his words. As he turned her around she saw a second man behind her. He brandished a knife and slowly advanced on her.
"NO...STOP!" Hermione screamed but the two men just laughed.
As the second man lifted the knife to cut her shirt open, a voice from the entry to the passage behind them stopped him.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you!" The voice was quiet and kind of cold but easily cut across the alley. The man who still held Hermione by her arms turned to the voice and there stood a shadow with broad shoulders.
After the first shock had passed, Hermiones captor regained his bravado. "Who is going to stop us … you? You better don't mess with us and quickly head along, before you get hurt."
As the man answered, Hermione swore she heard laughter in his voice. "I doubt it would be me who is getting hurt, but go ahead be my guest. I can not stand by and let you hurt the lady."
The man with the knife laughed and, after a quick look to his compadre, he advanced on the man who stood at the mouth of the alley.
As he was mere steps away, he charged and tried to stab the man. The stranger grabbed the hand that held the knife and twisted it around. The sickening crunch of grating broken bones was a bit overly loud in the confined space of the alley. It was quickly drowned out by the pained scream of the owner of said broken bones.
A few, almost gentle, taps with the tips of her unknown savers fingers and the knife wielding man sank into blissful unconsciousness. Hermiones captor roughly pushed her to the ground, dislocating her shoulder in the process. As she couldn't use both hands to break her fall, she hit her head on a dumpster and then slid down to the ground. She felt very sick, her ears were ringing and the passage seemed to spin around her.
'Great, now I have a concussion.' From squinting unfocused eyes, she saw the man who had held her captive charge the stranger.
The man just pulled something out of his pocket and suddenly his assaulter knelt on the floor throwing up and crying softly. Now Hermione had to throw up as well, she noted on the side that, since she had not moved much, most of her semi digested lunch landed on her. Meanwhile her savior ('Hopefully' she thought) had closed in to the kneeling man and, after a quick jab to his temple, he joined his friend unconscious on the floor.
The stranger calmly walked over to her, and she regarded him with heavily unfocused eyes that were starting to close. "Don't fall asleep. You've got a concussion, talk to me. What's your name? Mine's John."
"E-Mione." Hermione mumbled as best as she could.
"Pleased to meet you, Hermione. Stay with me a moment longer."
He had taken a small bag from his coat and seemed to look for something inside of it. He reached for her and tilted her head back. A fowl smelling liquid was poured in her throat and the second she swallowed, her head began to clear. Her eyes refocused and her stomach settled.
"You're a wizard!" she gasped. Taken aback he looked at her.
"You're a witch then?" Hermione quickly nodded. "Well, that saves me the trouble of oblivating you."
She tried to push off the floor but her dislocated shoulder screamed in pain. "Can you help me?" She gasped. "My shoulder is dislocated."
John helped her off the floor and the reached for her arm. "This is going to hurt."
She nodded at him, he gave her arm a quick pull and she felt her joint slide back in its socket. Hermione gave a quiet whimper of pain and he searched through the bag once more. He handed her a small bottle with a violet potion in it.
"For the pain and it will relax the tensed up muscles in your shoulder."
Lastly he took out his wand, used a cleaning spell on her to make the vomit on her clothes disappear. For the first time Hermione now took a conscious look at the man who saved her from a potentially horrible fate. He was young, younger than she would have thought, no more than one or two years older than herself. He was handsome in a dark kind of way and looked very much like a bad boy. Dark hair and eyes, dark clothing and the heavy leather coat, which should normally be to warm to wear on a nice day like this. Boots, that looked like they were made for combat, rounded of the ensemble.
"Thank you,...John was it?" Hermione held out her hand. "I am Hermione, Hermione Granger."
John grasped her Hand. "John, John Avalon. May I accompany you home on this fine evening my Lady?"
Laughing her nervousness away, she answered. "You may kind sir."
They were silent as they walked, neither wanting to break the comfortable silence that had fallen on them. As they reached Hermiones Home, she turned to him.
"Can I offer you anything, a glass of water or a cup of tea? It's the least I can do for you."
"No thank you I am fine. But maybe you would be interested in going out for coffee tomorrow?"
"I would like that."
"I'll swing by on 4 PM tomorrow." He pulled a card from his pocket. "This is my phone number. Just call if anything at all comes up."
She took the card and he turned to walk away.
"See you tomorrow." She called after him, but he had already disappeared.
After entering she greeted her parents and they told her, that a letter had arrived for her while she was gone. Picking it up, she saw the slender script of Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. Curios as to what the letter might be about, she broke its seal and began to read.
Dear Miss Granger,
Harry will be relocated to a secure location on the day after tomorrow.
Of course he will want to have his friends there as well and if you so wish and your parents allow for it, we will relocate you as well, tomorrow.
When you have reached your decision, call for my phoenix Fawkes, he will bring your answer to me.
Hope you are well and enjoying your summer
'Great, I get asked on a date once... oh well at least I get to see Harry again.' A slight flutter in her stomach made her smile.
She rushed down to tell her parents the news and while they were not ecstatic about it, they were happy that their daughter had friends that wanted her to join them. They allowed her to go, still the magical world mystified them.
Hermione quickly ran up the stairs to jot down a short reply to Dumbledore and called for Fawkes who appeared in a bout of flames and picked up her reply, only to disappear in the same fashion.
She took John's card from her pocket. "Better call him now." She muttered.
Going downstairs to the family living room. She called his number and after it rang for three times, an answering machine picked up. Hermione left John a message saying that something had come up and she would not be able to make it for their date tomorrow. She told him that she didn't know when she would be available again, as she would visit boarding school during the year, but maybe they cold meet up over Christmas holidays.
Emma Granger came into the living room, wiping her hands on a kitchen towel, and raised a questioning eyebrow at her daughter. "What is it about going out for coffee I hear?"
"Well mom, believe it or not, your daughter was asked out today. By a nice young man by the name of John. But just as well, the first time someone asks me out, I leave the next day." Hermione smiled wryly at her mother.
"Well maybe you could go for a coffee with that boy from school, what's his name? Harry?" Alice smiled as she ribbed her daughter good fashionedly.
"Mom, Harry is just a friend of mine. I doubt he will ever ask me out."
Her mother rolled her eyes at her. "Really dear? Since first year every letter you send home contains at least his name, every second sentence you speak when at home starts with his name. I know you have another friend at school, yet I barely even know his name. You hardly ever speak of him."
Hermione blushed. "Okay Mom. I would love to date Harry, but I doubt he wants to date me."
Smiling cryptically, Emma told her daughter. "You never know sweety."
Her mother returned to the kitchen, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts. After a few minutes she shook herself out of her musings, she had to pack after all. The rest of the day went by uneventful, and early the next day she was picked up by professor McGonagall. Her Transfiguration Teacher handed her a piece of rope, which would activate and turn into a portkey at the tap of a wand.
When they arrived, Hermione was greeted by the Weasleys who were settling in as well. She chatted a little with them, Ron and Ginny brought her up to speed on what had happened in the magical world and she was shocked to learn of the discrediting campaign the ministry had started on Harry. They heaped tons of dung on his reputation. To top it off he was now to be tried for his use of underage magic for defending himself and his cousin.
After learning of this Hermione buried herself in the Black library, where she speed read every law book she could get a hold of. She studied deep into the night and lost a lot of sleep.
The next day Harry arrived, he was pretty mad at them for not telling him of anything during summer. He stormed from the room and Hermione followed him after a few seconds. She saw him turn the corner to the library and followed him there as well.
Harry irritably asked her "Why didn't you write me anything useful this summer?" His anger seemed to have evaporated the second he saw she was alone.
"I would have Harry, Dumbledore be damned, but I only got here yesterday and was brought up to speed only then. I know your summer was miserable so far, but it's no reason to lash out at...us." She almost had said me. "You know I had a date for today. Had I known that you would rather scream at me, than be happy to see me, I would have stayed at home."
She went to leave, but Harrys voice stopped her. It was hoarse, whether from screaming at them earlier or because he was almost crying, she couldn't tell.
"No Hermione, please don't go." He rose from his chair and, totally out of character, hugged her. "I am really happy to see you, it's just … that I'm so angry all the time. Voldemort is back, no one tells me anything and I'm sitting in Little Whinging, forced to twiddle my thumbs. I want to prepare, he will come for me, but Dumbledore just spouts random Bullshit at me. But please don't go. You're right its not OK for me to give YOU such a hard time."
Hermione returned the hug, but noted the strong emphasize on the word you. Harry was openly crying now.
"Harry what's wrong?" Hermione asked him, she was dumbfounded. She only knew Harry as an extremely strong character, to see him reduced to tears like this, it broke her heart.
"I don't...I can't..."
"Harry what ever it is, you can tell me and I won't think less of you."
"I can't go to live with the Dursleys all the time, I would rather kill myself. I only defended me and my cousin, why do they want to take from me the only home I have ever known?"
Hermione had known Harrys home life was less then pleasant, but for him to describe it as not being home, it must have been fairly horrible. "Oh, Harry what have they done to you?"
He just sobbed harder.
"Did they hurt you?" He just nodded.
Hermione felt hate stir in her stomach, hate for people she didn't even know. For what they had done to her friend.
She stroked his back. "I am here for you Harry, anytime you need me. If you want to talk, I will listen." Tears of her own now spilled down her face, she cried for the pain of her friend.
"Why? Why, Hermione?" Harry whispered into her ear. "Why is it that I have to live in that hell hole 'for my own protection'? Why don't I get to live with my loving Godfather? Why am I the one who has to face Voldemort down every time? Yet I do it and haven't even complained once. Still they try to pile even more shit on me. Now I might get expelled." Hermione waited until he stopped and held him tighter as she replied.
"They can't throw you out, you had every reason to cast that Patronus." He pushed away from her lightly and wiped at his face with his hands.
"They are still going to try. Thank you, you've always stood by me in every crisis. I shouldn't have shouted at you. I am sorry."
Hermione wiped away her own tears and smiled at him. "It's okay."
Harry looked solemnly at her. "Please don't tell anyone I broke down like that. Okay?"
"Of course not Harry."
A tiny smile slipped onto his face. He reached up to wipe away a stray tear and his shirt sleeve tucked up in this motion. Underneath on his upper arm was a nasty purple bruise, upon seeing it Hermione gasped. He pulled his sleeve down fast, but she just stared at him.
"My uncle can get quite upset with me every once in a while."
"He did that, what a monster. Just how long of a while are we talking about?"
"Every other day or so." Harrys voice had become very small.
"Have you told anyone?"
He looked at her in wild panic. "NO! Just you. Please don't."
"Don't worry, I won't." She appeased his fears. Though her mind kicked into overdrive, wondering how she could get Harry pulled from the Dursleys.
Hermione then stood pulling Harry up with her, she hugged him once more and a less distraught pair left the Library. Harry then apologized to Ron for flying into his face, who more than gladly accepted the truce.
The next few days quickly came and went and before long it was time for Harrys trial.
He left with Mr. Weasley in the morning and Hermione just sat in the kitchen the entire time, chewing on her nails. When they reentered, Harry looked at her, smiled and nodded. Hermione flew from her seat and wrapped him in a hug, squealing all the time. Caught in the momentum of her happiness she kissed Harry on the lips.
It was short, sweet and left him a bit cross-eyed. Every occupant of Grimauld Place stormed the kitchen to see what was wrong, but their kiss had only been witnessed by Arthur and he had no intention to tell anyone. Seeing Harry smile widely, Sirius rushed over to him and swept him in a hug. Hermione meanwhile was blushing quite hard and hoped no one would see.
That night they all celebrated and before long it was time to head to Kings Cross to board the Hogwarts Express. Hermione and to their surprise Ron had become prefects.
They entered the hidden Platform 9 ¾. Harry and Sirius went somewhere they could say goodbye in privat. Hermione was meanwhile trying and failing to lift her trunk onto the train, all the books she had decided to get as extras to their school texts were weighing it down.
"May I help you miss?" A voice she recognized said behind her.
"I'd like that." She said while turning, only to come face to face with John Avalon. "John?!"
"That would be me." He smiled at her.
"What are you doing here?!" She was still pretty shocked.
"From the circumstances, I would guess I'm going to visit the same school you do."
"Why didn't you say anything?"
"I would have...didn't have your number though."
Hermione smiled nervously. "You got my message then?"
"I did...I have to say I never got stood up by a more beautiful witch." He did a slight bow, and she had to giggle while blushing deep red. John had just lifted her trunk into the train when Harry rejoined them.
"Harry this is John, the man I didn't date because of you." All three shared a laugh at that.
"Hello Harry nice to meet you, you're one lucky man though."
Harry just smiled at Hermione, his eyes never leaving hers as he said "You have no Idea!"
Hermione started feeling all warm and wooly inside. Ron choose this moment to barge into their conversation. "Hey Hermione we should get going, the Prefects are upfront there is some sort of meeting happening."
Hermione tore herself from both her saviors and turned to Ron, feeling rather disappointed that Ron had been made Prefect instead of Harry. "OK...I guess. Harry, John, I will see you later."
Slightly awkward Harry turned to John. "Sooo...Should we share a compartment?"
John just shrugged. "Sure."
Entering they found some space in an almost empty compartment, only a strange looking blonde girl sat in it.
John asked her. "Would you mind if we sat here?"
"Not at all." She said dreamily and went to pack her things.
Harry quickly stopped her. "NO...NO we want to share it with you, we'd never drive you away. If you don't want to sit with us, we can find some other compartment." Harry and John turned to leave.
"I'd love to share." Her dreamy voice stopped them and they sat down.
John had keen senses and picked up that she had answered to fast and a little bit to eager. Friends she had probably only a few. She beamed them a smile and was about to bury herself in her magazine, when John handled the introductions.
"Hi. This is Harry and I'm John. Who are you?"
"Hi I'm Luna."
"Well Luna since Harry and I only met like 10 Minutes ago...How about we get to now each other?"
Luna smiled genuinely and some of the dreamy quality to her voice disappeared. They spent an hour chatting and getting to know each other better, when the door was ripped open. Malfoy and his goons stood at the door, sneering at them.
"Well Potter the crazed lunatic has found a matching girlfriend Loony Lovegood. I hope she knows her way around Potter...UGH!"
A small object fell to the floor from where it had impacted Malfoys groin. It was a small beanbag Harry noticed, as Dracos Hands went to cradle his privates. John stood up and pushed him against the forehead and he just fell over in the hallway still cradling his hurting genitals. The dark figure stood over the hurting boy and hissed in a deadly whisper.
"I will not tolerate you insulting anyone like that...and if I guess correctly you're a Malfoy... tell your father that I wait for him to show his ugly death eater head...so I can sever it from his shoulders. Tell him my name while you're at it. Tell him it's Avalon... John Avalon."
Without another word he turned on his heel and slammed the compartment door shut. The other occupants looked at him in shock.
'Here goes nothing' he thought and cleared his throat. "So you didn't seem surprised to have this fucker come in here and insult you?"
Luna answered in her sing song voice. "He does it all the time...you just get used to it and ignore him."
Harry then added his own twopence worth. "He is just the local bully. I can't even take him seriously anymore. Every second sentence starts with 'If my father hears of this...'" Harry noticed Johns eyes flashing dangerously as he mentioned Malfoy senior.
"Lucius Malfoy, that piece of lowlife Death Eater scum. One of these Days I will challenge him and call him out. If he accepts the old law..." Luna gasped.
"An honour duel according to the old law? He could legally kill you then!"
John just laughed coldly. "Don't forget the opposite is also true."
Harry could only stare. "You can legally kill someone?"
John had to smirk. "Not exactly legal, but the old law is still active. You can duel to these rules and the law enforcement has to look on, because they are not allowed to interfere."
Harry looked thoughtful for a moment. "So if I call out Voldemort. I can kill him in a duel."
Luna smiled at him. "Yes, but you could kill him in cold blood in the middle of Diagon Alley and nobody would punish you for it. He is free to kill, still from the last war." Hearing this made Harrys heart lighter.
They were just laughing about a joke that John had made, as Ron and Hermione entered the compartment. John noticed Luna shied away as soon as she saw Ron and buried herself in her upside-down magazine. Harry was busy introducing him to Ron, so he didn't notice. He then introduced his friends to Luna and while she smiled genuinely at Hermione it seemed forced with Ron, who told Harry that they knew each other already.
'Yeah and not on the best of terms.' John couldn't help but think.
He stood and made room for Hermione next to Harry and sat beside Luna, maybe a little closer than necessary. Funnily enough Luna reacted by scooting even closer, almost pushing into him, and her smile grew a bit behind her magazine.
They talked for an hour, though Luna was very quiet during that time, then Hermione and Ron got to make their rounds. Harry excused himself to use the loo, leaving John and Luna alone.
"Okay spill it, what's the story between you and Ron?"
Luna folded her magazine, the title declared 'The Quibbler' and looked with her calm and placid eyes at him. "He doesn't like me. I was friends with his younger sister, we live close by, and we often played together as children. But that before we started Hogwarts, it seemed to be easier to call me names and ridicule me instead of standing by me."
John frowned at that. "Does that happen often?"
"Pretty much during my entire time in Hogwarts, I know I am different ever since the accident that killed my mother, but that is just who I am. I won't bend and break just to find friends that don't like me for who I am, but for who I pretend to be."
"I know what you mean, I have been different from birth. Nobody I have been around as a kid was comfortable with me there. I am sorry that you had such a life changing experience, I can only guess you were there when it happened?"
Luna look in his eyes and he saw the pain coming to the front, hurt that was buried so deep and still burned so hot. "Yes, she died right in front of me, I was nine years old at the time, she tried to cast an experimental spell and it collapsed in on itself. It killed her and changed me, it gave me additional abilities, I can see things no one else can..." She trailed off. "Why do I even tell you, I should know better than to give you ammunition for eventual bullying. Why do I feel I can trust you?"
John smiled at her. "You are very special Luna and I don't think you should be ridiculed for it. I get the feel you have a hard time making friends because of your abilities, but I would like to be your friend and I think you can feel my honesty."
Luna had a few tears run down her cheeks and she gave John a watery smile. "I would like that."
John smiled back. "Now tell me about what you see, perhaps your not as alone with this as you think you are." And so Luna told him about Nargels and Wrackspurts and crumpeled horned Snorkacks and it was this to what Harry walked back into.
He saw Luna laugh with John while they talked about things he had never heard before. "Excuse me, but what is a Nargel?" He asked, not wanting to be completely lost.
John explained. "The are tiny creatures not unlike a fairy, they are somewhat parasitic, as they feed of your magic, but the drain is so little you don't feel it. Anyhow, you can only see them, if you can see other planes of existence and if you're able to listen in, they will tell you all sorts of gossip."
Harry looked dumbfounded. "And you both are able to see them?" Luna nodded happily. Harry shrugged. "OK if you tell me so." He smiled at them.
And they started talking about something or the other and Luna hoped against hope that John would still be her friend when they reached Hogwarts. Hermione and Ron joined them again shortly before reaching the station, where they had to look out for the other students and Harry, John and Luna got to share a carriage.
"Do you know which house you will be in?" Harry asked John.
"No actually I have no clue, but I don't care either way. I'll be happy in any house."
John arrived with them at the entrance to the great Hall, where Professor Flitwick intercepted him and led him away. Harry and Luna said goodbye, entered and went to their tables respectively. The first years were led into the hall and after the hat had sung a song about how the houses should unite, were sorted into their houses.
After the last first year had been sorted Professor Dumbledore announced that there would be one more student to be sorted and that he would join their fifth year despite being older, as he had been homeschool and had to sit his owls. He called 'John Avalon' and John entered the hall, walked up to the chair and the hat was dropped on his head and... nothing happened.
Surprised they waited for a minute when the hat opened his tear. "SLYTHERIN" It shouted.
The Slytherins along with the other three houses gave a rather subdued round of applause. As he made his way to the Slytherin table, he went by Luna and told her that they would meet up and eat with Harry and Hermione at breakfast the next morning. Then he sat at the end of the table and looked to where Draco Malfoy threw him poisonous glares.
After the feast had ended, wherein Dumbledore was interrupted by the new DADA Professor, Umbridge, the prefects led them to their common rooms and dorms. John was glad that the Slytherins had individual rooms instead of shared dorms. He locked the room with every locking charm he knew and that were quite a few. He laid in his bed and knew he was up for a long night.
After the first night in Hogwarts, Luna waited in front of the great hall for John. She was barefoot as all her shoes had disappeared over night. Not that she wasn't used it by now, but the thumbtacks some one had laid on the floor by the bath were maybe a bit too much. After she had pried two tacks from her foot and had healed it, she got ready for the day. She saw John and gave him a shy wave and he waved back and gave her a loud and clear 'Good Morning, Luna!'.
Luna felt warm inside and gave him a genuine smile. Together they entered the great Hall as Johns eyes fell on her feet.
"What happened to your shoes?"
"They disappeared over night...you get used to it after a while."
John growled and let it be for now, thinking of how to stop this stuff in the future. They quickly spied Harry and Hermione sitting at the Gryffindor table. They walked over and Hermione gave them a wave. They sat down opposite the two.
"Good morning John. Good morning Luna."
Greetings were exchanged. They started eating and chatting until a shout stopped them short.
Ron had just entered the hall and was now staring at them furiously.
John sighed. "What's got his knickers in a twist?" This for some reason had both Hermione and Luna laughing and Harry didn't help the situation.
"We can't be to sure. This is Ron, maybe someone ate all the sausage, before he had the chance." John and Harry looked at each other and started laughing as well.
Ron had closed the distance to them by now. "What are all of you laughing about, why is there a Ravenclaw and, of all things, a Slytherin at our table. Hermione your a prefect too, why are you letting this happen?"
Hermione opened her mouth to answer him, but John beat her to it. "As prefect you should really read up on the school rules. On the evening of the Welcoming Feast, every student has to sit at their house table. Outside of that, inter house friendships are not only allowed, but encouraged. But if this is the way we are made welcome at the Gryffindor table..." He turned his head to the Hufflepuff table. "Oi...Hufflepuff...you have room for two more?"
The Puffs laughed at Johns antics and made come over gestures at them. John laughed and smiled at Hermione and Harry before Luna and him made their way over. Hermione considered tearing strips of Ron for this, but simple called for the other two to wait up and followed. Harry shrugged apologetically at Ron and followed Hermiones lead. They were made extremely welcome at the Hufflepuff table, while Ron sulked at the Gryffindor table.
Susan Bones leaned over to Harry. "Hey Harry, my aunt is the head of the DMLE and was at your trial over summer." Harry nodded, he remembered Amelia Bones. "I just wanted to let you know that we believe you and believe in you still. She said she would try to silently recruit more Aurors, now that he is back."
Harry smiled at Susan. "I'm grateful that at least someone in our government listens to reason, thanks Susan."
He squeezed her hand on the table for a second, but it was enough to have her blush. John grinned inwardly at the byplay, guessing correctly that Harry had no idea of his effect on the witches. He might not have been much in physical terms, but he was a born leader and confident in that role, the witches loved him for it. John resolved to talk to Harry later and give him a few pointers so he wouldn't stroll around and accidentally break a lot of hearts, when eventually Hermione would become his girlfriend.
Professors McGonagal, Flitwick and Snape all had unreadable expressions as they had to come to the Hufflepuff table to give some of their students their schedules, it was a strange mixture of pride, disbelieve and indignation.
As it was Saturday and they had no classes for the day and next, they had to make up their mind what to do after breakfast. Hermione wanted to go to the library and get started on revision tables for their OWLs.
John chuckled. "Okay how about we do that till lunch and after we do something to have a little bit of fun. I think someone has to stop you from burying yourself in to much work."
Hermiones cheeks reddened a bit at that, but she was okay with his suggestion, as long as they had their tables ready before lunch. Upon Johns question, what she wanted to do, Luna said she would accompany them to the library and read up on something or the other.
The foursome made their way to the library and spent a fun morning remembering spells and lessons they had to know for their OWLs and Hermione was pleased to see Harry enjoy his education like that. As they laughed and joked over many moments in class, the tables came together easy and they were done long before lunch. Madame Pince was not amused about their lack of silence, but since they were literally the only students in the library today, she said nothing.
After they had their revision tables ready they decided to look up some of the material, that was supposed to be in this years curriculum. They had all had a look in the new defence text and found it to be severely lacking in practical lessons and spell work. This led to John and Harry having a debate about the pros and cons of several offensive and defensive spells, Hermione and Luna interjecting every once in a while to add to something that had been said. After they had left the library to go down to lunch, Hermione and Luna insisted that they had learned more about defense in the hour they had listened and partaken in their discussion than in their three or four years of DADA lessons.
Lunch was an interesting affair, as they saw their example take root in the school. The Patil twins ate at the Ravenclaw table and Pavarti had brought her friend Lavender. Hufflepuffs sat at every table, sans the Gryffindor table, in the hall and Ravenclaws and Gryffindors at theirs. Even a few of the younger Slytherins had found their way to the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw tables. The only odd one out was the pretty empty Gryffindor table, so the foursome decided to sit there. Ron huffed at them as he saw them come close, but the effect was completely lost on them as they were still immersed in their discussion. As soon as they had gotten seated, Susan and her friend Hannah Abbott came over to chat and eat with them.
Harry looked over to Ron and saw that his friend still had his head a mile up his arse and choose to ignore it for now. The way he saw it, there was no reason to ban John from the table just because he had been sorted in Slytherin. That would be just as bigoted as saying that muggleborn had no place in the school. John and he had shared Lunas compartment and she was more than welcome as well, as he always craved more friends.
The strange blonde was fun to be around and scarily clever, even if in a very abstract way, but it made her think of things no one else would think of. Even though he would deny it if asked, he also thought Luna was rather cute and pretty, but Hermione and their shared kiss over the summer always pushed to the front of his thoughts. Harry knew he had fallen for Hermione and was not at all sorry for it.
Seeing them side by side, he compared Luna to Hermione, but they were completely different. Hermione had filled out quite a bit over the summer and had womanly curves. Luna was very petite and very slender, she would still fill out some, but never as much as Hermione. Both were beautiful in their own right, thought both would probably not believe you when told.
Hermione saw Harry looking off into space and tried to get his attention. Finally she gave up calling his name and shook his shoulder. He snapped back to reality blushed horribly and apologized about being lost in thoughts. Hermione smiled at him, and his blush seemed to worsen.
"What do we want to do, now that we have the afternoon all cleared?"
Harry, John and Luna all looked at each other and shrugged. John then came up with the suggestion, that as it was a nice afternoon, they could spend some time outside by the lake. Since they didn't have any better ideas, it was agreed on and they had plans to get some tea and biscuits from the kitchen for later in the day. Harry volunteered to get the food and drink and asked John to go ahead with the girls.
When they arrived at the shore of the lake, the girls looked for a good place to lay down the blanket they had brought. They turned to look for John and found him stripping off his clothes. Hermione kept right on turning, while Luna watched as he stripped down to his boxers. A wave of his wand later and the boxers had turned into swimming trunks.
Looking to where the girls stood he had to fight the urge to laugh. Luna was staring at him, while Hermione had her back to him and he could see her cheeks were a deep red.
"You can turn around, I'm still decent."
Hermione turned and if possible her blush got even worse. Johns body was sculpted and muscled a few scars riddled his arms, back and chest. Hermione felt a deep itch, she had no idea how to scratch. Luna felt the same itch, though she knew exactly how to scratch it later. She smiled widely at John and stripped as well. As she arrived at her underwear, she looked expectantly at John. He waved his wand and Lunas bra and panties turned into a bikini.
The younger girl looked expectantly at Hermione, who looked back like she was...well loony.
"I'm not going in there! Even with the sun shining on it, its probably only 10 degrees Celsius."
John looked at her, shrugged and leapt into the water. Upon breaking the surface he started swimming with long and regular strokes. Luna deciding to do the same, broke the surface gasping and took a moment to get used to the waters temperature. She then followed Johns path through the water. Shaking her head, she went back to the blanket and saw Harry coming from the castle carrying a basket.
"Where are John and Luna?"
"Swimming? But the water must be freezing!"
"It obviously is, with the way Luna was gasping. John however didn't even blink an eye."
After ten more minutes John and Luna came from the shore of the lake. John took his wand and conjured a thick towel and wrapped Luna in it. She had goosebumps all over her body and her lips were slightly blue from the cold. He however looked like he had just taken a dip in a public pool. He then conjured another towel and dried him self off, seeing that Luna was still shaking from the cold, he wrapped his arms around her to share his body heat.
At this moment something in Luna broke and she started crying. She turned in his embrace, threw her arms around him and burrowed deeper into his warmth. Frowning he picked up the still crying girl and carried her to the blanket. Sitting down he pulled her into his lap. She threw her arms around his neck and cried on his shoulder.
"What happened? Luna are you hurt?" Hermione was very concerned, why had the girl started crying?
Harry was also worried, but whatever had happened she seemed to trust John, so he hadn't hurt her. Luna was still crying so hard she couldn't say anything.
After her crying had turned into a sniffle, John leaned in close to her ear to whisper.
"What's the matter, Moonchild." She turned hurt filled eyes to him and answered in a voice so small you could almost not make out words in it.
"My mommy used to call me that." She almost sounded like a small girl, despite being almost fifteen.
"I won't use it again, if you don't want me to."
"No it's okay if you do, but no one else."
"Okay Moonchild, why do you cry?" Luna dropped her eyes to the ground.
"I...I don't really want to...don't want to..." She was crying again.
"Take your time." Luna looked at all of them.
"I will...tell you...why...but first...are we...friends? Like really friends? You don't want anything in return to be my friends?" She felt dumb as she asked, if they really wanted to hurt her they would surely not tell her.
They had been so nice to her, especially John, she just came to expect the worst of them. She didn't know how to handle kindness from somebody not her dad.
John answered for them all. "Of course we are. Luna we are your friends." He lifted her chin until her eyes met his. "I want to be your friend. You are a loveable person Moonchild."
She looked at Hermione. "John is right Luna. We are friends. We can all use a friend on days we feel down." She gave the younger girl a reassuring smile.
Luna then looked at Harry. "I don't have many friends Luna. But I'm fiercely loyal to the ones I've got. I'll be your friend until I die Luna."
The younger girl still nestled on Johns lap, started crying again though this time she was smiling and crying at the same time. She wept for all the unjust punishment she had suffered over the years and cried from the happiness of having friends.
"I have friends...I've got friends..." she repeated over and over again. It took almost twenty minutes for her to calm down.
She fell asleep on Johns lap and he wrapped her into her towel firmly and placed her down on the blanket. Hermione was the first to recover.
"What was that?"
John looked pensive before answering. "I think Luna just found her first real friends. Seemingly everybody before, only befriended her to gain something from it. She seems to have suffered quite a bit of abuse as well."
Harry had composed himself by now. "That's horrible. We have to be the best of friends to her, no one deserves that." They looked at the blonde, that was now peacefully sleeping.
"We should let her rest, but should be there when she wakes up." John picked up the tea from the basket and poured three cups.
They spent the next three hours chatting, getting to know each other even better. They took turns to check up on Luna and as it was Hermiones turn again, Lunas eyes fluttered open.
"Hey Hermione, I've had the most wonderful dream, you and John and Harry all agreed to be my friends. John even hugged me." She blushed a little. "And he held me while I cried."
Hermione smiled at her. "That was no dream, we have been watching over you for the past three hours."
Luna smiled widely at her and got up from the ground, she saw John and Harry talking a few feet away. As they saw her get up, they smiled and waved at her. Luna was sure now her life would turn out to be better.
It was an hour later when the foursome made its way back up to the school. Luna had dressed in her robes once more. John had banished the blanket and vanished his towel, but Luna had asked him to keep her towel. He told her that, since it was conjured, it would disappear anyway sometime in the future and she got to keep it till it would do so. She was smiling broadly all the way to the castle and when they entered the great hall for dinner. Luna led them to the Ravenclaw table, much to the bewilderment of her house mates. John had already sussed that Luna was not favoured amongst her peers, what she had told him and also not told him, gave him a better picture of it. He was not surprised at all that some of the looks were downright hostile.
John stared them down and one by one they would look away. They were able to eat their dinner in quiet, not one of the Ravenclaws tried something. John distrusted the calm that heralded the probably much greater storm and was afraid that Luna would take the brunt of it.
After they had eaten, they all hugged Luna. She made her way to Ravenclaw I a sullen mood. John had guessed that there would be repercussions, but she knew for certain. Tonight would not be the best of nights, but the thought of having friends added some much needed steel to her backbone. 'Let them come.' She thought defiantly.
John said his goodbyes too and made his way to Slytherin. The hostile glances from his own house were murderous.
Harry and Hermione slowly walked up to their common room. About halfway there, Hermione did something, she never thought she would. She pushed Harry into a hidden alcove, kissed him and then quickly got back into the hallway. Harry followed five seconds later, grinning all the way to the tower. They knew that they had to talk about this, but neither was in the mood for it. The friends just enjoyed the comfortable silence that had fallen between them, each lost in their own thoughts.
After the had reached the common room, they hugged good night and turned in early. It had been an eventful day and both were knackered.