Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. However, I do own OC, non-canon, and fictional magic.
A/N: What a life. For the past few months' the muse has not spoken to me of Harry Potter but of Tairen Soul Series, my other fic. So, I'm trying to get the muse to understand this what y'all want to read. Thank you, as always, for your continued support. It's nice to know people want to read what I write! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reviewing. It really does motivate. Much of the story is ended in my head. It's just this Dark Witch Arc, Harry's Healing, and Lord and Lady Black, plus the Goblins.
There is a **WARNING** in this chapter. I admit, I won't go into too much detail about it. Instead, I'll let y'all handle the imagination.
Ch. XLVII: Apologies
Hermione closed her eyes for a moment.
Alright. She thought. I'll make-up with Luna...I still believe she's illogical…but Harry, Merlin. I'll never forget how he, looked at me…with such disdain.
Sighing, the witch summoned Dobby.
It's not like I have the Map handy. She thought dryly as she wrote a piece of parchment her request while holding her finger to her lips. There was no way she was going to advertise her whereabouts and her attempts to locating the eccentric Ravenclaw.
Dobby nodded, and held his hand to her. The brunette put her books away and took his hand.
Apparating, Hermione was behind a willow tree facing the Black Lake, where a lone figure was visible only by her platinum hair. Hermione had to admit Luna is a very pretty, but odd, girl.
Dobby gave her thumbs up, and with a CRACK! He returned to his duties.
Alone, and nervous, Hermione realized she forgot what, precisely she was going to say, even after writing it a few times.
Drat cats on stick! She thought, nonplussed.
Lonely Luna looked at the lake before sensing someone was behind her.
"Did you need something, Hermione Granger?" The blonde asked coolly.
"Yes, actually," Hermione answered, causing the blonde to arch a perfect brow and look at her over her shoulder.
"I, erm, came to apologize." Hermione said bluntly.
Unaccustomed to being apologized to definitely surprised the younger witch. However, the coldness speared Hermione with a clarity she could compare to ice.
The brunette balled her fists, but jutted her chin stubbornly.
"I was…rude about The Quibbler," she admitted. "And, I wouldn't want someone to insult my dad, either."
The blonde stared at her making Hermione uncomfortable.
"You're right," Luna stated. "That was rude…however; you don't seem at all sincere in your apology. Merely, that Harry Potter, your best friend isn't speaking to you. And, you're accustomed to his sole attention. It's silly you feel threatened by me."
"I am not threatened by you!" Hermione retorted, her cheeks heating.
"You are," Luna repeated smoothly, turning her full attention to older witch. "It's rather funny, you'd've been in Ravenclaw—and acted just like everyone else." Her silvery eyes darkened into gray. "It's a shame you're so inflexible that you think Harry Potter must be your only male friend and you, his only female friend. Or," Luna's shrewd expression made Hermione's hackles rise. "Perhaps you want to be more than just his friend? And now, he was friendly to silly, lonely, Loony Luna Lovegood? Goodness, Hermione Granger, one would think, with such a highly logical mind, you'd've been above such immaturity."
The Ravenclaw witch turned and made her way back to the castle where Hermione stayed rooted to the spot.
Well that went charmingly. She thought irritably.
The Lady Black smiled prettily up at the Lord Black.
Is this really happening? Her heart fluttered, making her feel like a schoolgirl.
Sirius blushed as his eyes crinkled reading her expression and wondering at it.
Much to their surprise, the witch leaned into the wizard's shoulder, and snuggled deeply. Smiling shakily the wizard placed his chin on her hair.
For a moment, they remained in each others' embrace. Lady Black pulled away, lowering her eyes coquettishly and opened the door. Lord Black collected himself and followed her, with a smirk.
Perhaps I haven't ruined everything after all. He thought, daring to have a glimmer of hope.
Together, they made their way to Harry and his serpentine guest.
Harry was kneeling toward Kreacher and asking him something. The House-Elf nodded and Apparated as the Lord and Lady Black exchanged confused looks.
"I forgot about Luna," Harry answered by way of explanation.
"Luna?" Sirius queried.
"Yeah, I'm hoping she'll still be friends even though…Hermione was awful to her…Kreacher and Sparkles said Hermione was jealous but I don't see why." Harry mused.
Sirius wisely remained silent as Séraphine fought a smile.
"Does her father own The Quibbler?" The witch tactfully asked, cottoning onto the look her House-Elf suggested.
"Yes! Her last name is Lovegood." Harry supplied.
"It's a good read," she stated with a straight face. Thankfully, Harry did not see Sirius' flummoxed expression. In her hand was an older copy that she had originally intended to use as kindling; but she smiled benignly, while covering up the date. "I usually read it during my breakfast. It's quite amusing and sincerely written."
Much to her surprise, Harry hugged her. "Oh, I can't wait to tell Luna! I've never heard of it." The raven-haired boy promised. "But, I'll definitely read it!"
Frowning slightly, Sirius felt a tug on his conscious from the House.
Kreacher appeared and handed a pair of paper glasses with a red lens and a blue lens along with squiggly paper.
Harry beamed at the House-Elf and thanked him profusely.
He kissed the Serpentine Warrior on her cheek, hugged Séraphine and Sirius, before taking Kreacher's hand.
"We'll see you again soon, Harry." The Witch told him gently as Sirius squeezed him around his thin shoulders.
"Good," Harry stated, blushing.
With a CRACK! The two passengers returned outside the Great Hall.
She arched a brow at her husband.
"What? The Noble and Most Ancient House of Lovegood would be a formidable ally at the Wizengamot." She answered his expression. "If it means getting a subscription, then so be it." She actually had a subscription since its first publication. Lord Arcturus had the good sense to keep it directed to the House of Black for that very reason. He never read it, of course. Good form would not allow him to read such rubbish.
Typically, the Servants did as a passing fancy. Kreacher definitely read it while he was mad and it brought the House-Elf a measure of peace despite the ridiculousness of it all. For that reason alone, is why she continued it as the de facto Mistress.
"Thank you, Kreacher." Harry whispered. The House-Elf smiled knowingly and returned to his Master and Mistress.
"What did you want to tell us, Lady Sparkles?" The hazel-eyed witch asked, shrewdly guessing that the snake did not want Harry to know anything.
"Madame Jocccelyne is one of the Darkessst Witchesss out there." Sparkles reiterated. "I think I need to go to Hogwartsss before the next moon…but I was hoping to borrow Black Family Magic sssince ssshe will recognize me."
"Granted," Sirius stated, somewhat distracted.
Séraphine gave him a sharp look.
"Of course, Lady Sparkles." She covered for Sirius. "May we include the Goblins to your whereabouts?"
Just as she spoke an official Gringotts owl appeared and dropped a warded letter into Sirius' hands.
Taking a butter knife from the table he opened it. Scanning it, he read aloud:
"Dear Lord and Lady Black,
Per our records, there is no one listed as either Pureblood, Half-Blood or Muggleborn by a Madame Jocelyne. However, if it would be to your earliest convenience, would you be willing to provide a description?
Or if you would like, we can meet in-person via this enchanted coin?
Ragnok Beastkiller Axeblade
Director of Gringotts
Leader of the Goblin Nation."
Raising his eyebrow at the inhabitants, he got an affirmation.
He tapped the coin as Séraphine, Sparkles, and Kreacher portkeyed with him to Ragnok's private sitting room.
"Excellent," Ragnok approved, eyes widening at the Serpentine Warrior. Slowly, Ragnok bowed.
"I never thought I would meet such an esteemed guest, madam." He said carefully.
Sparkles smiled her fangs at him as she inclined her head.
"I hear you're on my hatching'sss ssside." She stated smoothly using House magic to commune without her Speaker for short periods. "I can give you thisss."
She cupped her clawed hands and hissed something in Parseltongue which no one knew.
A bubble formed, much like crystal ball, showing a memory.
A frighteningly beautiful woman with pale papery skin, blood-red eyes, and lank gray hair appeared. The malevolence was thickening the room. So much so that three figures moved intuitively back.
Dungeon-like setting showcased medieval instruments of torture and young and old screams pierced the air.
A young Harry James Potter, aged three, looked on in horror with bright emeralds. Two other children were limping, each in their early teens.
One had blood-soaked eyes that the youngest had wrapped in soiled linen.
The other, sobbed with blood-soaked linen in his mouth.
The evil woman held the organs and smiled cruelly at the pair as she dumped them into her cauldron.
Drinking the mixture of putrid she had not a wrinkle. Her skin smoothed, her blood-red eyes changed into ice-blue…it did not take a guess where they originated.
Her hair thickened into lustrous blonde and her figured zipped up nicely into an hourglass.
"Attend them 07623." She commanded in a purring voice that sent chills up the spine. The child immediately took a hand from each teen and carefully led them away.
The Dark Witch beamed and held onto a pair of snakes. One male, the other female.
They hissed in vain threats.
The boy, wisely did not stop but it was evident he understood their plight.
Leading the teens away, he placed them on their pallet. Each boy turned away from each other and Harry picked up crumbs from stale bread, eating them. Harry made his way toward the mute boy and held his fingers in front of his face.
Concentrating, the boy willed the pain away from the older boy.
It only made him sob harder and hug him.
"What's going on?" asked a quiet, bitter, voice of the blind boy.
Harry stumbled and shyly took his hand.
"May I try?" He asked in his child's voice.
"Sure, why not?" The blind boy bitterly asked. "It's your fault we're in this mess. Now not even Score can say anything to the contrary."
Harry winced. It wasn't his fault the woman was wicked. The guilt ran deep.
Slowly, the child placed each hand in front of his eyes. The same thing happened. Only sleep made the blind boy silent due to the blood loss.
The child thought hard and waited.
Later into the night, he heard pained hisses.
The male snake was dissected without anesthesia as his magical essence was all but drained.
The female writhed in agony.
Fiercely determined, the boy's accidental magic made him invisible; he plucked the tormented creatures and held them inside his tattered shorts. Shirtless, his bare skin showed a myriad of blood wounds, bruises, welts, and burns.
He hissed for them to be quiet. He wasn't sure how he would escape.
But then, as he thought, and wished with all his might. He was outside the wards. The guilty child wanted his friends with him. Well, they were not really his friends. Just older orphans Madame Jocelyne bought.
The hisses distracted him and before he knew it the child was running, running, and healing the snakes with his powerfully contained magic. The female snake looked back to see a sign written Madame Jocelyne's Orphanage 527 Lockwood Road, London.
He appeared before his Aunt Petunia who scowled, but took him in. The snakes could smell coins of gold from the Magical World in her front pocket.
As soon has Harry crossed the threshold he saw Professor Albus Many-Names Dumbledore.
Smiling in a grandfatherly manner he waved a stick in a complicated pattern. Luckily for Harry, his snakes remained in his baggy pocket. Everyone was healed and Harry received a strong memory charm. Since it was not directed at the snake matepair then they were unaffected.
There was something that nagged at Harry, he wanted to go back and rescue his fellow orphans. The feeling never left even as he was Obliviated.
But how could he, really? After everything they did to draw the wicked witch's attention to themselves.
The collective outrage and horror caused a long moment of silence.
"That harpy. Must. Die." Séraphine stated with as much ice in eyes as she could muster. If she were the House-Witch deadly fangs silver swirls would have blackened the room.
"That bitch-whore!" Sirius fumed. "Can we go after her now, please?" He all must commanded the Goblin.
Ragnok snarled. At least this, all species can agree, children are off-limits!
In Gobbledygook, he commanded his secretary to gather the Bank's considerable resources. He placed a Public Enemy No. 1 on her likeness throughout the Bank. Anyone knowledgeable must step forward and assist or risk being labeled an accomplice.
"As soon as I get the intel, then yes, Lord Black, we will get her." He promised, black eyes blazing.
"Ssshe knowsss our sssignature," Sparkles said. "Thossse boysss are a lossst caussse if they aren't already dead."
Everyone closed their eyes.
"I hope, for their sakes, that they are." The witch whispered.
"Damn Dumblefuck," Sirius snapped. "And he teaches children for Merlin's sake."
All adults agreed they pledge whatever resources, including Black Family Magic, at finding her.
Yet, when nothing came forward, they realized it would be arduous.
There were no records concerning the Lockwood address.
Frowning thoughtfully, the witch glanced at her husband.
"I think it's time we visited House Dursley and see if this, Petunia," the floral name becoming a curse, "might enlighten us on our journey…?"
Smiling predatorily at his wife, he nodded. "I've been itching to let Padfoot out for a run." He looked at Kreacher's calculating face.
"Kreacher," he said softly, gaining his House-Elf's fullest attention. "I'm going to ask that you assist the Lady Sparkles with her endeavor at remaining hidden from the Dark Witch as a proxy to Her Ladyship," Séraphine gave a curt nod, raising her fingertips to 'bless' him. "In addition, watch out in case there are two young men fitting that description. Try not to harm, only subdue, should you see them."
"And check for tracking charmsss." Sparkles hissed. "Ssshe usssesss archaic magic. We do not know how old ssshe isss or if Jocccelyne is her real name."
Everyone went their separate ways to conduct a plan of attack while Ragnok clued Lacie and his team of the present threat.
Hermione remained where she was for a few minutes before realizing it was time for lunch.
Sighing, she wished she had found a way to Harry bumping into Ron.
"Watch where you're going," The redhead snapped.
In no mood to deal with his attitude, Hermione pursed her lips. She could feel the Lady Black quill become colder every second she remained in front of Ron. She frowned, puzzled.
"A bit slowly for you then." Ron stated as he sidestepped her.
What in Merlin's name was that about? She wondered, unnerved.
Shaking her head, she went to sit down and begin the meal, thinking of her Mum and Harry.
How on earth am I going to manage that? She thought sullenly.
Luna usually dreamy face was flushed from the cold and her recent comeback to nargle-infested brunette.
"Luna!" Harry called, grinning at her.
Kreacher had done Harry a service in finding the Heiress of Lovegood first, surprising Harry, that he was not with his best friend.
Shrugging, he made his way to the surprised blonde and shocking the corridor.
"I'm so glad I found you!" Harry continued, emerald eyes filled with a rare moment of joy. "Look," he told her handing her a pair of 3-D glasses.
"This is our version of Spectrespecs," he told her proudly. "We have to use when we're at the cinema—it's like moving pictures but with sound and an audience, and when we have special paper."
Luna gaped at him, her eyes brimming with tears.
"You…really meant it?" She softly asked.
"Meant what? Being my friend?" Harry clarified. "Yeah, of course," he smiled knowingly. "I thought we could share our worlds? I'm honestly more of Muggleborn and I would really like to be friends." He looked at her earnestly. "I know Hermione was mean to you…and I'm really sorry about that. But honestly, she's a good friend once you get to know her. It took me a few months and then she was better." He shrugged sheepishly. "Would it be OK if we tried again? The three of us? It would be fun to study in the library with a Ravenclaw," he chuckled. "I'd like to read your Dad's magazine." He added. "Serena does."
"I'd like that," Luna said shyly. "Is Serena your new godmother?"
Harry laughed. "Yes, she's French and really nice. She reads your Dad's magazine during her breakfast tea."
She dug into her purse and handed him this week's edition of The Quibbler, and showed him Spectrespecs.
Beaming, the two new friends exchanged paper glasses.
Harry put his on immediately and laughed as he saw Luna wear hers.
Together, they giggled and Harry proudly had her magazine in his hand as they chatted amicably.
"These are brilliant, Luna!" He said between laughs. He made funny faces designed to cheer her up and ooh'd and ahh'd over them all the way to the Great Hall.
"These are, too, Harry," She admitted, smiling slowly.
He walked her to Ravenclaw Table as they discussed Luna's favorite subject (sans Snape, of course) Potions.
"That's utterly amazing that your mum knew about potions so well as to have a Mastery." Harry told her sincerely. "My mum was good at Charms so that's the only one I know of. Dad was good at Transfiguration. So those two are the ones I try the hardest in."
He ignored the whispers and the fingers as Harry wore the Spectrespecs and had The Quibbler in hand.
"Can we meet up at the library tomorrow? Wait, not tomorrow." Harry realized. "But the day after next? Since I shouldn't have Quidditch practice?"
Smiling, the blonde could only nod.
"Brilliant!" Harry told her. "I'll pick you up after dinner, then." He tilted his head shyly. "Would it be OK, if Hermione joined us?"
Luna's smile never wavered.
"That works for me." She told him softly. She felt she could totally put up with the inflexible bookworm if it meant having a friend in Harry.
She also ignored the looks her fellow Eagles* were throwing her.
"Fantastic!" The boy wizard said. "See you then!" He waved at her and made his way to Hermione at Gryffindor Table.
She wisely did not comment on his new eyewear as he spoke to her as if there was no rift between them.
Later that evening, Luna received an owl from her father.
Dearest Honey Bee,
What has happened at Hogwarts?!
I've literally the whole school subscribing to us! Plus, I've received a letter from Lady Serena Black inviting me for tea on Wednesday next. Maybe I can interview her? I can hardly keep up with the printing demand!
Luna grinned and held her 3-D glasses in paper, eyes sparkling with tears.
Only this time, it was joyous.
Eagles v. Ravens: Does it bother anyone else that the Eagles are, in fact, the mascot of House Ravenclaw? As a fellow Raven, I'm a little peeved. Although, Ravens are cool, I'm glad they're the 'unofficial' mascot for the HoB.