Disclaimer - I am not JKR, nor a professional author. I write these stories purely for my own enjoyment, as a simple and inexpensive form of escapism from the pressures and stresses of everyday life. I then post those chapters here so anyone and everyone can read my efforts for free. For those people who know exactly what constitutes the perfect Harry Potter story, and simply must vociferously point out the many reasons why mine isn't it, please redirect all that literacy talent into writing your masterpiece and posting it here. Like everyone else on this site, I'm always searching for good stories to read.
Chapter 2 - Dreaming of You
Harry was behind the privacy screens Madam Pomfrey had positioned around his bed. He was currently changing into the pyjamas she had also provided when a loud commotion hit the infirmary. Harry heard Hermione's shocked squeal and was out of there like a bullet fired from a gun. Snape had rushed into the infirmary and pulled back the wrong screen, the ones behind which Hermione was also getting changed.
She had her nightgown already on and had been reaching for her housecoat when Snape burst in, said housecoat was currently draped in front of her like a protective shield. Harry pushed right past Snape and soon inserted himself between the pair, Hermione's arms going around him from behind as he faced the greasy-haired git.
While Harry's sudden appearance was like waving a red rag to Snape's enraged bull, their new rings allowed Hermione to feel that Harry's anger at their potions professor was totally off the scale.
She actually received glimpses of a memory from Voldemort that must have been released with Snape's appearance, causing Hermione to tighten her grip on her betrothed. The memory was of a much younger Snape kneeling in front of Voldemort, enthusiastically telling his master of having overheard a prophecy about a child to be born who could defeat the Dark Lord. It was no surprise then that Harry was three streets past livid at the man standing in front of them.
"What the fuck are you playing at, Snape?" The venom Harry put into those words rocked Snape back on his heels for an instant, before he came right back at the boy in front of him.
"Don't you dare speak to me like that, Potter. I know you were behind these shenanigans tonight, and I'll prove it…"
Harry didn't back down an inch. Hermione was sure only her tight grip of him prevented her betrothed attacking their now even more hated potions professor. "You - you're going to prove nothing! You're so incompetent, you can't even work out what screen I'm behind - or did you deliberately burst in on my betrothed as she was getting dressed?"
It seemed all about to kick off as Snape began reaching for his wand. "Why you insolent…"
Snape never got to finish what he intended to say, nor manage drawing his wand, another wand positioned mere inches from his hooked nose stopped the enraged professor dead on both counts. The angry person holding that wand brooked no argument either, her orders would be obeyed - or else.
"Severus Snape, how dare you disturb my patients - while they're undressing too! I don't know what you think Mr Potter has done but he hasn't been out of either mine or the headmaster's sight since he recovered consciousness - after being attacked by those abominations some idiot placed around a school."
Poppy's glance shifted for an instant to the Minister of Magic, leaving no one in any doubt who she had just referred to as an idiot. Her wand though never wavered, nor did her determination to end these outsider interruptions in her infirmary. "You will leave at once, or you'll be staying the night in one of these beds - while being treated for the spell damage I'm about to inflict on you - the choice is yours to make."
Faced with the utter certainty she would carry out her threat, and that Albus had no intention of seeing Poppy's ire switch to him by interfering on his behalf, Severus was left with no option but to flounce out of the infirmary with his tail between his legs.
Only then did Hermione release Harry from the somewhat death grip she had held him in. While she appreciated his desire to attack Snape, they needed a lot of training before the outcome of that particular action would swing in their favour. Harry needed an outlet for his anger though, and impressed the hell out of Hermione by using his ire constructively.
Bowing to the healer, he surprised everyone there. "Madam Pomfrey, the houses of Potter and Black thank you for the care you have always shown me and mine. The list of adults in magical Britain I can say that about is extremely short. In truth, yours is the only name on it."
After leaving Madam Pomfrey blushing at his gratitude, Harry then turned his attention to the two remaining adults present. "Minister Fudge, earlier tonight you listened to that thing that just left - instead of us - and were about to end a man's life because of it."
While Albus tried to intercede on Severus' behalf, and deride Harry on his treatment of a professor, he was summarily ignored by the teens as they waited on the Minister's response.
"Harry, my boy, Black's guilt was established years ago…"
The Minister of Magic wasn't used to being interrupted. After the night he'd just had, Harry was way beyond caring about petty little things like social niceties.
"Nothing was established, Minister, nothing at all. Using emergency powers, the ministry of the day flung my godfather into Azkaban - without a trial - and forgot about him."
Turning his attention onto Dumbledore, Harry wanted to know his part in this farce. "Is it true Snape only escaped going to Azkaban because you vouched for him?"
Hearing that Harry had somehow become head of House Potter, and noticing the rings both he and the Granger girl were wearing, Albus was trying to figure out how he was going to deal with these developments when he was suddenly faced with the Snape question. Since the Minister of Magic was standing there, Albus felt he was left with no other option but to answer honestly. "Yes, I vouched that Severus was not a Death Eater…"
Harry interrupted again. "Well, you were wrong. Did you also know it was your precious Snape who sent his master after me - causing my parents to be murdered trying to protect their baby son? Why didn't you vouch for Sirius, or at least see he got a fair trial?"
While this certainly shocked Poppy and Cornelius, Albus reaction couldn't have been any more dramatic if he'd been kicked in the stones by a centaur. All trace of the kindly grandfather act was gone as he grabbed Harry by either shoulder and shouted at him. "Where did you hear that? I demand you tell me?"
Harry knocked both his hands away before getting right in Dumbledore's face. "Demand all you like, I don't care. Your involvement in my life is over - I'm making my own decisions from now on."
"You can't do that. You must tell me what you heard - and from who?"
Turning his back on Dumbledore, Harry faced a now shocked Cornelius Fudge. "Minister, we're in a position to help each other here. You don't want to have 'Mass Murderer Escapes Again' all over tomorrow's Prophet, and I want my godfather to get a fair trial. If Sirius is guilty of betraying my parents, and murdering all those muggles, I'll stand beside you as you pass sentence on him. 'Case being further investigated as dramatic new evidence comes to light' is a far better headline for all of us."
Standing there being ignored, inside Hogwarts too, was not something Albus was used to. It was bad enough that Harry seemed determined to slip from his control but sensing Cornelius was seriously considering Harry's suggestion lent a whole different degree of urgency to the situation. Although he hated doing things in haste, Albus felt there was no other option left open to him but to act at once. it was imperative for his plans that Albus stop this information leaving the room, and discover just who else knew about his secrets. In a matter of seconds he had obliviated Cornelius of the last few minutes, spelled him into a deep sleep while levitating his body onto one of the spare hospital beds.
Pomfrey was shocked into silence but - for Harry and Hermione - this behaviour only confirmed what Lily Potter had told them earlier, this Albus Dumbledore was certainly not their friend.
Hermione just had to comment, her almost religious deference to figures of authority had crashed and burned tonight. "So much for not being able to overrule the Minister of Magic! You really are a lying old bastard."
"Needs must, Miss Granger, and I need to know where you heard what is effectively a state secret. It's so secret, the state doesn't even know about it - and that's the way we will be keeping it. One way or another, I will know that information tonight - and you won't remember any of it." His wand flicked again and a now sleeping Poppy was soon lying on one of her own beds. Seeing nothing but defiance coming from both the teens facing him, Albus let out a sigh of disappointment.
"Very well, we shall do this the hard way. Ligilimens."
Harry and Hermione felt as if something was trying to invade what they'd so recently discovered and shared, though both already cherished. The young couple reacted instantly and in perfect synchronisation to protect that precious connection to each other, trying their hardest to push the unwelcome intruder out. Powerful blasts of magic shot from both of their left hands, hitting a totally unprepared Dumbledore. Since he was only a matter of feet away from both teens, there simply wasn't time for Albus to defend himself against their unexpected and powerful magical retaliation. The old wizard was blasted across the room and slammed into the infirmary wall, sliding down unconscious to the floor.
"Hermione, what just happened?"
"I don't know, Harry. It felt as if I had my wand in my left hand, but it's sitting on top of the bedside cabinet."
Thinking about it, Harry agreed. "I just wanted to blast him away, and that's what happened. I wonder if these rings have a magical core in them?"
"Well, considering what they do for us, I wouldn't be surprised. I thought for a moment we'd both just performed wandless magic but using our rings to focus our magic instead of our wands makes more sense. This is something we'll need to test and practice…"
"Hermione, we need to deal with this situation first."
She lifted her wand and revived Madam Pomfrey. The healer hadn't been obliviated, though Poppy certainly didn't believe her memories would have survived the night. Her anger was mighty. "We need to contact the aurors, get the old fraud charged with what he did here tonight."
Harry actually stood in front of the healer as she was heading for the fireplace to floo for help.
"Madam Pomfrey, Dumbledore will spin some story and none of us will be believed - just like earlier tonight. The Minister has already been obliviated and won't remember what we spoke about."
"We can't let him get away with this. Watching how familiar the old goat was with the process, and how quick he was to implement it, you can bet this wasn't the first time he's done something like this."
"I'm suggesting we play him at his own game. Obliviate the knowledge of tonight from Dumbledore and dump him in his own bed. He'll wake up in the morning and not know anything - let's see how he likes it. Obliviate the knowledge that Hermione and I are betrothed from him, give us time to hide our rings."
This answered something that had bothered Hermione. "I wondered why you had mentioned that, after deciding we were going to keep it quiet. The only problem is that Snape knows…'
"We say he must have been the victim of a Confundus Charm?"
Hermione loved the irony of that, she just didn't relish being in the man's class again. There was no way Snape wouldn't seek retribution, he was simply too petty to let the matter go. Madam Pomfrey quickly solved their problem.
"There's only a week of term left. Any time you have potions I want you here instead - so I can check if there has been any lasting damage over tonight's events…"
A loud snore cut through what the healer was saying, and also chopped to little pieces the tension that had been building in the room. Harry actually laughed at Ron's ability to sleep through anything.
After healing the large bump on the back of Dumbledore's head, Poppy cast the oblivate charm on him while Harry called for Dobby to put the headmaster into his own bed. The little elf swore it would be easy to change the headmaster into his own nightclothes too. That should really have the old bugger wondering what had happened when he woke in the morning.
Harry and Hermione kissed goodnight, retreating to their own beds before Madam Pomfrey woke the Minister. She berated him, as only a healer can, about working too hard. Cornelius left Hogwarts, thinking he'd taken a 'funny turn' from overworking. He would really need to start delegating more.
Harry thought he was having the most vivid dream ever, until he felt a familiar presence beside him. "Harry, what are you doing? Why are you watching this? I really don't want to be reminded of this day again."
The candles on the cake told Harry this was Hermione's sixth birthday and an excited little girl was almost bouncing off the walls at what would be her first ever party. That excitement slowly drained away, being replaced by despair, as the hands on the clock slowly travelled well past the appointed time - and still none of the children she'd invited had turned up. Harry was enraged as her parents casually started packing all the food away, so it wouldn't waste, while Hermione was in floods of silent tears as she removed her party dress and curled up in her bed. Her mother at least checked on her later, though Hermione was pretending to be asleep.
Harry tried to comfort Hermione over the incident, which was extremely hard to do since neither of them were physically here - wherever here was. It was at least more than her parents had done at the time. Hermione though had other things on her mind.
"I know your mum was rushed tonight when trying to give us the information she thought we needed but this was a hell of a big thing to leave out. We're sharing thoughts and now memories, can cast with our rings - I suppose my main worry is what else didn't she have time to tell us."
"Whatever it is, we'll face it together. As strange as it might seem, this is still the best night of my life. Oh shit! Not this - please not this..."
The scene in front of them had now changed. It was still a sixth birthday party though this cake was at least twice the size of the one little Hermione had. She could feel the anxiety pouring off Harry's presence as he watched his younger self scurry about helping to make sure everything was perfect for the invited guests arriving.
"Mum, the freak will spoil everything…"
"What! Don't be silly Diddums - he won't be here when all your friends arrive. You hear that Freak? Get to your room, and don't make a sound. I'll let you out later and you can clean up the mess from the party."
Hermione only thought she was angry as the skinny little boy walked away without arguing. When he opened the cupboard door and climbed in, her confusion soon turned to utter rage as Harry spent the next few hours sitting in his 'room' - peeking out through the door vent at all the children their age enjoying themselves.
She had thought her birthday experience was bad but Harry's was much harder to take - and then it got even worse. She could actually feel the small boy's hunger as he silently sat there watching the other children stuff their faces. When the party was over and everyone had left, Harry was let out to clean up from the party he had so cruelly been excluded from.
When the starving child understandably snuck a few morsels of leftovers into his mouth, while he tidied up, the resulting slap from his Aunt was a total shock to the watching Hermione. The harridan then stood over Harry and ensured all the leftovers were scraped into the waste bin, smirking in satisfaction as she did so. After Harry had done all the washing up, he was sent back to his cupboard with something that Hermione supposed technicality qualified as a sandwich. Two skinny pieces of bread and a little clump of wilted salad certainly wouldn't stave off the boy's hunger. After eating every crumb of this meagre meal, the younger Harry warily moved some of the contents of the cupboard to reveal a pitiful stash of food.
Her Harry spoke his first words since the memory began playing. "Dudley and Uncle Vernon were always helping themselves to food when Aunt Petunia wasn't looking. That was the second birthday cake she had to buy, they ate the other one the day before. I was able to snag a piece of it while Aunt Petunia was moaning at them about having to go shopping again. She wasn't really angry though, not like she would get at me. She never hit Dudley, and certainly never with her frying pan."
The scene switched from Hermione being bullied at school to her dad sitting down with her that night and discussing the matter with her. While Harry never even had that, it was the lack of affection coming from the parent that shocked him most. He knew his Hermione liked her hugs, yet it would seem hugs were a commodity that were severely lacking at home. It was almost as if her father was dealing with an upset young patient in his dentist chair - rather than his own daughter.
Hermione had already sussed they seemed far more accepting about what happened to their younger selves, while becoming enraged at the treatment of their betrothed. She spoke up in defence of her parents.
"Harry, my mum and dad aren't very demonstrative people. As I got older I wondered how I was even born, since they never seem to kiss or hug - they sleep in separate beds too. When you are younger, you just accept these things as normal. It's only as you grow up and look around you…"
She stopped as the scene they were now witnessing was 'Harry hunting', and Hermione knew for certain where Harry's mother's rage had come from. Hermione was also ready to take on all comers to ensure Harry never returned to those people again.
Harry was very interested in McGonagall's talk with the Grangers, explaining that magic was real and what Hermione could expect from Hogwarts. Compared to his own induction - 'yer a wizard, Harry' - Hagrid had apparently left out rather a lot.
Hermione thought so too - including vital information like how to get on the bloody platform. Watching with fresh eyes and a different perspective, the entire 'meet the Weasleys' incident seemed very contrived. Neither suspected Ron of any wrongdoing, he was a terrible liar and up there with Hagrid in the secret keeping department. Both though could easily imagine Dumbledore manipulating Molly so Harry would meet a family the old wizard approved of.
Seeing the troll incident from Hermione's perspective was a real eye-opener for Harry. All he could remember was hanging on for dear life.
"I'm sorry I never stuck up for you after what Ron said."
"You came to that bathroom and rescued me, that's the most important thing. We both know Ron has a temper - I hate to think what he'll say after finding out we're together…"
Watching their friend sacrifice himself at the giant chess set halted any further talk - until first year Hermione hugged her counterpart in the potions puzzle room. "I almost said the word 'love' you know. In such a short space of time, you had become the most important person in my life. I just didn't know how to deal with that… Or an eleven year old you."
There was a loud 'Eewwwee' noise from Hermione as Quirrell unwound his turban to reveal the guest who was living there. Harry certainly didn't want to watch this again and tried to ease the building tension.
"It smelled disgusting too!"
As Harry defeated the possessed professor, Hermione couldn't help herself. "I have never wanted to hug anyone so bad in my entire life. I just wish I could hug you right now."
Dumbledore telling Harry he was too young to know the answer to his question sealed it for him too. "So do I, Hermione. We'll just have to make up for it when we wake."
Hermione exploded at the next memory, her shouts and curses would turn the air blue - and have the Dursleys scurrying for cover. As a ration of food was passed through the newly installed cat flap, and Harry shared it with Hedwig, Hermione was then reduced to tears at their suffering. "Dumbledore keeps sending you back to this? Never again, Harry, never again." Those tears turned to cheers as Ron, Fred and George turned up in their father's flying car to rescue their friend. Ron's embarrassment when showing Harry into his home was clear to see, as was Harry's utter delight to be staying there.
Hermione's view of him playing quidditch was a revelation for Harry, especially when Dobby enchanted one of the bludgers to do him harm. She was terrified, there was no other word for it. After the school discovered Harry was a parselmouth, Hermione's unwavering support was appreciated once again.
Seeing herself lying in bed petrified was a strange experience, though not all bad as Harry sat beside her stiff self and held her hand. Watching as that fraud Lockhart tried to obliviate both Harry and Ron had Hermione thinking poetic justice had been served. She couldn't help but scream at her first sight of the basilisk though, nor could she drag her eyes away from the bravest thing Hermione had ever seen.
It looked like one of those old movies where cavemen fought against dinosaurs, only this was very real. Even after killing the beast with a sword and sitting there dying, Harry still wouldn't admit defeat. Stabbing that diary with the fang he'd pulled out his own arm left Hermione staring in awe at the boy she loved. She got to see their hug in the great hall from Harry's perspective before another Dursley - Marge - was added to her growing shit list. Watching as Harry blew her up had Hermione giggling…
She woke with a large smile on her face, lying with her arms wrapped around Harry certainly helped keep it there.
"I'm so glad we both woke before I got to see what an arse I made of myself over a broomstick…"
"We're where we are now Harry. That's in the past, and so is you staying at Privet Drive."
"I don't think I would be welcomed at your house, your parents barely acknowledge you…"
"I accepted the way they are years ago, and doubt they'll change now. Are we going to be okay about this?"
"I don't know if it's these rings amplifying my feelings but anyone wanting to harm you is going to find an angry Harry Potter waiting on them…"
A kiss from Hermione was broken up as Madam Pomfrey moved the privacy curtains from around what they were sure was the bed Harry had gone to sleep in.
"Oh, you are both finally awake. That was a form of enchanted sleep that you both fell into, certainly a sleep that I've never seen the likes of before. Your vital signs synchronised, and Miss Granger somehow ended up in your bed - no matter how many times I moved her back to her own. You just kept vanishing and reappearing in Mister Potter's arms."
"I thought you couldn't apparate inside Hogwarts, and I can't apparate anyway."
"I don't know what it was, but I ruled out apparition very quickly. It's not something you can do in your sleep, for obvious reasons, and you were both in a very deep slumber. How are you feeling?"
Harry was about to give his stock answer of 'fine' when he realised something. "Madam Pomfrey, I don't think I've ever felt better. The first thing I do every morning in life is reach for my glasses, yet I can see both of you fine without them."
"Harry, your scar is so much fainter too. Like Harry, I also feel great this morning…"
Madam Pomfrey had her wand out, ready to run some diagnostics. She had a grin on her face though as she answered Hermione. "That might have something to do with where you woke up. Both of you were in far too deep a sleep for anything inappropriate to happen so, after moving Miss Granger for the third time and being thwarted again, I just let you be. I also left the screens around your empty bed and have yet to hear from anyone about last night. Your friend has already left for breakfast, you slept right through it. After looking at these results, we should be able to have both of you out of here in time for lunch."
Hermione skipped back to her own bed to get changed, while Harry did the same after both she and Madam Pomfrey noticed his clothes had been cleaned and pressed, the reason for that silently popped beside Harry. Dobby though was pulling his ears in worry.
"Did Dobby do wrong? Dobby could see Harry Potter needs his mate beside him, so Dobby moved her over."
Harry settled all the elf's worries with a wide smile. "You did great, Dobby. Thank you so much for looking after us. This is going to take some getting used to, having people who look out for me. I suppose this is what having family is like, and you are now an important part of that family, Dobby."
The little elf went from anxiety to ecstasy in a matter of moments, only Hermione asking through the privacy screens if Harry was ready yet that saw Dobby relinquish his hold on his new master. Dobby watched through a gap between the screens as Harry and Hermione cast charms on their rings, Harry's glasses had their lenses transfigured to clear glass too, before the couple left the infirmary hand in hand.
'Just one more week to go' This was Luna's mantra that she kept repeating to herself. One more week and she could go home, leaving the bullying behind again until September. That mantra certainly gave her something to look forward to but did nothing to relieve the pain of having to wear odd shoes - and both of them being for her left foot.
Her tormentors obviously knew there was only one week left of term too, and seemed determined to get as many 'pranks' in before their time ran out. Her heart sank when she heard a girl's voice behind her, experience from her two years in Hogwarts had taught Luna things like this did not end well. She then found herself confronted by the last two people she expected to see.
After Hermione pointed out the young girl in the corridor, Harry wasted no time in approaching the little blonde.
"Hello Luna. I'm Harry Potter, and this is my girlfriend - Hermione Granger."
Waiting on the hammer to drop, Luna said nothing - just stared at the last two people she would have expected to join in with her tormentors.
Sensing something was wrong here, Harry tried his best to put the rather oddly dressed young girl at ease. "I don't know what you've heard about me - there are all these strange stories going around - but I'm not a bad guy. I just found out you are my godsister and wanted to introduce myself. Listen Luna, if you need anything - anything at all - you come see me."
Luna was almost in tears at the first bit of kindness she'd received since entering Hogwarts. Harry looked ready to walk away and give Luna her space but Hermione wasn't having that. Something was badly wrong here and she wanted to get to the bottom of it.
"Luna, why are you wearing two left shoes?"
Luna's answer was barely above a whisper. "I can only wear what's left in my trunk. Things keep going missing. I hope they turn up before I go home - they did last year…"
The young blonde then got to see another side of Harry, though Hermione's arm slipping around her shoulders reassured Luna that his anger wasn't directed at her.
Having so recently witnessed Hermione's memories of her younger self being bullied may have affected Harry's response to hearing that, but he wasn't sure. He would like to think the fear and vulnerability displayed in Luna's oh so expressive eyes would have gotten a similar reaction out of anyone. Both he and Hermione hated bullies, and were no longer prepared to stand back and let it happen if they could possibly help. "People are taking your stuff? What are the prefects doing about it? Surely Flitwick is dealing with them?"
Hermione was trying to comfort Luna and keep Harry calm at the same time. "Harry, what has McGonagall ever done for us? You don't see our prefects stoping Fred and George pulling pranks, they just don't want to be pranked themselves."
Nodding in agreement, Harry reached a decision. "Dobby." The little elf was there in an instant, and Harry knew exactly what he wanted to do. "Dobby, this is Luna Lovegood. She is my godsister, and a member of our family. People have been taking her things, leaving her standing here in two odd shoes. Could you find Luna's stuff for her?"
Dobby stared at the girl, studying Luna intently before nodding and popping away. Luna was about to protest that Harry didn't have to do this when Dobby popped back with a right shoe for her. The relief at having the proper footwear, and being able to remove the painful shoe that was never meant to be worn on that foot, saw Luna hug Dobby - and make a friend for life.
"We were just about to head down to lunch, would you like to join us?"
Hermione's offer had Luna's jaw hanging open, though Harry misread her reaction as reluctance. "I'll understand if you don't, things tend to be a bit crazy around us."
That was too much for Luna, bullying she was learning to handle but kindness started the tears. Hermione was advising Harry to hug the young girl, something he was happy to do. Their communication over the bond the rings gave them was improving all the time, and both were having to hide their anger at what the bullies had done to this vulnerable young girl. Hermione took Luna from Harry and hugged her too.
"I always want a sister, as Harry's godsister you're the closest I can manage - if that's okay with you?"
Luna's wide smile answered that question. Luna was smiling a whole week earlier than she thought she would be as the three of them made their way to the great hall for lunch. Hermione once more was holding Harry's hand at the little blonde chatted away at great speed, probably because Luna hadn't had anyone else to talk to all year.
"I remember my mum telling me about my godmother, and how she died just after I was born. She used to talk about her friends Lily and Alice, I never put it together that my godmother was actually Lily Potter. I suppose she wold have told me in time, we just never got the time. Daddy says the Blibbering Humdingers took mummy away but I was there, I know what happened. I think daddy does too, it's just easier for him to say that. He started to say a lot of stuff that doesn't make sense after mummy went away…"
Hating to ask but needing to know, Hermione took Luna's hand as she made her enquiry. "What age were you when your mummy left?"
Luna was back to answering in a whisper. "I was seven. The photo of my mother I brought to Hogwarts back in September went missing too…"
Harry's anger didn't explode all over the corridor for one simple reason, he felt a photo frame being pressed into the hand Hermione wasn't holding. A whispered 'Dobby, you're the best' was followed by him handing the picture to a delighted Luna.
She hugged the picture to her chest and squeezed Hermione's hand in thanks. "We've just met and already this is my best day in years. Thank you both so much - and you too Dobby."
Squeezing her hand right back, a smiling Hermione was struggling to hold in the tears as she thought about some of the 'Loony Lovegood' stories she had heard. She then heard Harry in her head, saying that his dad's comments about Luna and Neville now made perfect sense. Hermione wholeheartedly agreed, leading to her making their offer to the girl. "We're not going anywhere, Luna, at least not without taking you with us. That is, if you wanted to come too?"
Luna was at heart a trusting soul, that her tormentors had used that trait against her probably hurt the most. If she couldn't trust these two though, and they were currently playing the cruelest of pranks on her, then Luna didn't know what she would do. She simply had to trust them. Holding her precious picture close to her chest, Luna managed a fair impression of Dobby as her head nodded madly - just so there could be no misunderstanding - that she would be willing to go anywhere with the first people to show her genuine kindness after spending two years in this castle - she was hardly likely to miss Hogwarts.
"You may have noticed Hogwarts hasn't been the safest place for Hermione and me to go to school, but at the moment we're only looking at what our alternatives could be. We're also keeping that quiet, Luna."
"Harry, you may not have noticed but nobody speaks to me - and they wouldn't believe anything I said anyway. I'm just happy to know you would even think of taking me with you if you do leave. There's nothing about Hogwarts I would miss. You are the only friends I've made in two years."
Clutching her precious photograph in one hand, the other was still being held by Hermione, Luna was smiling as they entered the great hall for lunch. The shit-storm they walked into may have put a dent in her smile but not her determination to stick with her new friends. Given any sort of choice, Luna would take their offered friendship over the dreadful loneliness that her life had become. What was listening to an enraged professor scream at them when compared to the awful alternative - nothing she couldn't handle.