A/N: I know another start to another story, but I had to get this one out of my head and why not share it with you. Open to beta, if anyone is interested.
The world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I'm just sitting in her sandbox, playing with (and sometimes breaking) her toys.
Warning: This story deals heavily with mature themes, please don't read if you have a hard time stomaching these kinds of topics.
Phase 1: Apogee
Chapter 1: New Moon
Harry sat down at the black lake. Curfew would have long since come and gone, but he couldn't care less. Just a few hours ago, he had still been looking forward to a year without the usual bullshit. To a year without Quidditch, but also a year that would have other people risk their life for once.
He skipped a stone across the quiet surface of the lake and his eyes settled on the Durmstrang boat. It was a looming presence and he knew that nothing good would ever come his way. How was it even possible to enter a magical contract, if you didn't do it yourself? Magic sure had weird rules at times.
Passing them on his way out, Harry had seen that Hermione believed him. Just as well as he had seen that Ron didn't. Just one more reason why he didn't want to join the others in the castle right now.
A noise caught his attention. It sounded a bit like a cross between a muffled cry and a loud sniffle. Casting a look around, something pale caught his eye. It was so bright, it seemed to glow in what little light there was. Getting up, Harry made his way to the group of dense bushes that were obscuring his view.
Luna was having a bad day. Most of her days were crap, but today took the cake and defecated all over it. Hogwarts had been rough for her from day one and bit by bit and year by year, it had gotten worse.
In first year, mostly everybody had ignored her. The majority of the school, her house and even her dorm. Nobody knew that she existed and it had been heaven in hindsight. It had been close to the end of the first year, when things had started to go downhill fast.
Her one friend that she had known before school, had been behaving strangely for most of their year. Then Ginny goes missing and, after getting saved by Harry Potter, suddenly finds no time for her friend anymore. Even over the summer, they had hardly spoken a word.
In her second year, things had gotten worse even faster. At first the bullying had just been verbal abuse. The ordinary stuff that she had dealt with even before coming to Hogwarts. When they noticed that she barely reacted to the quips and cruel jokes, that was when the 'pranks' had started.
There was the usual, like itching powder in her underwear and coloring solution in her shampoo. Then there was harder stuff, like powdered bubotuber pus in her underwear and hair removal solution in her shampoo.
And then her underwear disappeared altogether, as did her shampoo. And her robes, all but the shabby ones. They took what they could without making the teachers suspect anything. All done by the people that were supposed to take care of her, that were supposed to be her family here.
The start of this year, however, marked a new low. It had only been her second day back, when somebody had smeared all her possessions and her trunk with animal feces. While she didn't bother to bring anything valuable to school since second year, it was still a hassle to clean excrement off of your things. Luckily the house elves had stepped in and cleaned her clothes and trunk, while she had been in the bathroom scrubbing the rest of her things and then herself.
Then her house and especially her dorm, had progressed into physical abuse. She thanked whatever deity that would hear her, that the boys hadn't stooped that low… yet. While they had readily joined into the verbal abuse, they never once touched her. The younger girls would often trip her or step on her toes, when her shoes had gone missing again. The older girls started to outright hit her, usually somewhere where the mark would be hidden from view.
They would destroy her homework, strip her and lock her into a closet for the night. Luna would have to wait till the spell had worn off, so she could sneak back to her dorm. Each time this had happened, she had hovered over the other girls in the room. With her wand in hand, she wondered if she could cast a severing charm powerful enough to decapitate someone. Only to crawl into bed and cry herself to sleep silently.
But tonight took the cake. Right before the feast, a group of girls had cornered her. There was Cho Chang, who always seemed to be involved in her torture, as well as a couple of others in the older girls year. They had taken her clothes again and locked her out of the castle. The brisk October air had immediately gnawed at her thin body, while she dove for the first bit of shrubbery she could find.
She knew that she wouldn't be able to enter through the main doors before curfew. She couldn't risk entering the castle with the majority of students out and about. She wasn't shy about her body and normally couldn't care less about the opinion of others. But she also knew that if news of this broke, it would break her completely. Then even the few people that ignored her would laugh at her and taunt her.
Now she had taken up residence in one of the bushes that were right by the shore of the black lake. She wished for her wand, so she could conjure a small fire for herself. While she had found a small sliver of flint earlier, which had cut her foot as she stepped on it, she had nothing to strike a spark with. Or something to light on fire for that matter.
She would have looked for an alternate route into the castle, but didn't find enough cover. Sitting here, she looked across the lake to the Beauxbatons carriage that was parked besides the Groundskeepers hut. Maybe life would have been different there, she knew that this was the alternative that her mother would have chosen for her. But she was dead.
Normally thinking about her mother's death made her extremely sad, remembering the tragic event that she had been a witness to. But now the thought filled her with hope. Maybe her mother was waiting for her in the afterlife, maybe she was still there somehow. She looked down at the razor sharp stone she kept turning in her hands. Even if there was nothing after death, wasn't that still preferable to the life she had been living the past six years?
With her mother dead, her father losing touch with reality and her miserable school life, she had nothing left to live for. The cold seeping into her bones only made the decision easier for her. This wasn't the first time she had thought about ending things herself. Now, however, she didn't care for anything anymore.
She didn't care that her naked corpse would be discovered the next morning, nor that her father would lose whatever shred of sanity he still had left. Luna swallowed heavy as she placed the shard against her wrist, tears began to fall. She knew, she had to make as much damage as possible on her first try, just in case she couldn't stomach a second. Applying as much force as she could, she dragged the flint through her flesh up to her elbow.
Her skin was numb from the cold, which helped her bear the pain for the first moment. At first she even thought she had done something wrong, but then blood gushed from the wound at an alarming rate. Her arm screamed in pain. The raw nerves now exposed to the cold air, screaming twice as loud. Luna was crying harder now, sobs silently wracked through her body and she started to feel a bit lightheaded.
Switching the stone to her other hand, her blood made its surface slick and hard to hold onto. She tried to take a deep breath to calm herself and placed the edge on her other wrist. She tried her best to hold onto the slippery sliver of flint. Making it up about half way to her elbow, before her hand slipped and the strength left her. The dizziness in her head grew and she had to lay down. She looked at the blood flowing freely from her arms. She smiled. Then everything went black.
As Harry reached the bush and peered through the leaves he saw skin. Naked skin. Girl skin. He looked away, only to turn back again. But this time he also saw what looked like blood.
Without hesitation, Harry sped around the bush. Saw the naked girl, her pale skin glowing in what little light remained. He also saw the wounds in her arms and the stone, just as well as the dark sand below her that had grown even darker with blood.
Quickly he knelt down and felt her neck, looking for her pulse. It was faint and the shock would probably kill her before he could reach the Great Hall to get Dumbledore. Not knowing what else to do than bring her up to the castle, he scooped the girl up and stood. He was surprised by her weight. With a brisk pace he started towards the castle, instinctively knowing that he wouldn't make it. She would die in his arms.
Harry's mind started to panic. His thoughts became incoherent. He started to run. Still certain he wouldn't make it in time, he felt power well up inside his chest. He would save this girl, even if it were the last thing he would do. His insides were alive with panic and the strange feeling of power looking for a release.
The castle still looked to be too far away and carrying someone at a running speed took its toll on Harry. He knew he couldn't make it in time. His foot slipped. Turning in midair, he had the girl landing on top of him. The impact drove the air from his lungs. Forcing himself to breath, he looked at the pale face that was inches from his own. No breath. He felt no breath. Wrestling his hand from underneath her, he went to check her pulse again. Nothing.
With a raw scream, all of Harry's emotions and magic broke through. Then everything went black.
Saint Mungos Hospital
The head healer had seen many a thing in her time at Saint Mungos. But nothing had prepared her for this night.
Someone had entered their emergency ward tonight by unknown magical means. The apparition and portkey points, as well as the linked fireplace, were directly beside the emergency ward. This was logical, so that all the urgent cases could be dealt with asap.
But this time someone had crashed into the middle of the ward. Out of thin air. With a sound, not unlike a clap of thunder. Of course everyone was immediately alarmed and had gone to check it out, only to find a boy there with a naked girl on top of him. They had checked both of the kids and had quickly found the girls injuries. A quick response team of healers had saved her in the nick of time.
The boy was a different matter. His magical reserves were completely depleted, but quickly rebuilding. Checking for injuries, they had quickly found the lightning bolt scar on his forehead. Harry Bloody Potter had exploded into her care this late in the evening. A boy that was supposed to be at Hogwarts, behind wards. Yet he had cradled a half dead naked girl in his arms and appeared in the middle of London.
She had run further tests on the boy and had been flabbergasted at the size of his magical core. He had more raw magical energy at his disposal than anybody she could think of. Even Dumbledore couldn't command this much at his ripe age and Potter was only a boy, so his core was still growing.
Shaking her head, she decided to at least give sleeping a try for now. No questions would be answered until tomorrow anyway.
Hogwarts, Great Hall
Hermione kept looking around, trying to see if Harry had returned to the feast. Ron was stuffing his face as usual, asking around his mouth of food, what she was looking for.
"Harry, I'm worried about him."
Ron got a dark look on his face, swallowed and replied.
"Well, he's probably off somewhere celebrating. He managed to cheat into the tournament after all."
Hermione opened her mouth for an indignant reply, but a deep gong interrupted her. The sound reverberated throughout the castle and was followed by the distinct sound of not so distant thunder. Dumbledore and the other teachers were almost at the door before the sound repeated, which made them quicken their steps.
Out on the grounds the group of wise wizards and witches were seen casting spells into the air. After he had a good dozen spells cast, Dumbledore had his phoenix disappear with him in a flash of flame.
Hermione watched the spectacle from the front door. 'They're re-warding Hogwarts!' She thought to herself.
Hogwarts, Headmaster's office
Dumbledore flashed into the room, thanks to Fawkes' flaming ability. He urgently made his way to a small hidden door in the back part of his office. Upon opening it, he was shocked at the sight that greeted him. The runic wardstone that had held up the schools wards for a good 1000 years had cracked down the middle.
He noticed that the crack went down especially through every anti-transportation ward that had been put on the stone. Carefully touching it with hands and magic, he activated the unbroken parts of it and felt the camouflage and protective wards go up. He breathed a sigh of relief. But what had broken the stone? With a certain sense of dread he called the heads of the houses to him and had them check for any missing students.
An hour later he had certainty. Harry Potter was missing from Hogwarts.
Harry cracked open his eyes. He felt weird. His head was pounding and his muscles felt sore, but he had never felt this awake in his life. Looking around the room, he drank in his foreign, yet familiar surroundings. 'Hospital?' He thought. Then the events of last night came flooding back to him. The lake, the girl and his attempt to help her.
Sitting up, Harry's headache worsened. He was dizzy and just managed to bend over the side of his bed, before becoming horribly sick. It wasn't too bad, since he hadn't eaten anything since lunch yesterday. Just then a young nurse walked in with a tray in her hands.
She cleaned up what little mess he had made with a flick of her wand. Smiling she placed the tray on his bedside table.
"Good morning Mister Potter. I hope you're feeling better now. My name is Angelica, I'm the nurse on duty for this ward right now. I have a couple of potions here that will help you feel better right away."
"How did I get here? Better yet, where am I? Is the girl okay? Did she make it!?" Harry's voice grew louder with each question.
"Please calm down. Shouting will only aggravate your symptoms. Here take this." With that Angelica shoved a small vial with a bright pink potion into his hand.
Harry eyed the vial suspiciously. What if all of this was a ruse? He wouldn't put it past Voldemort to use a half dead girl to lure him away from Hogwarts.
Angelica's smile grew wider as she twirled her wand and the vial uncorked. Its contents shot into Harry's mouth and down his throat. After a short moment his head began to clear and the dizzy feeling stopped.
"Now, the girl you asked about, she's still alive. She barely made it, we think it was thanks to you. You're in Saint Mungo's Hospital and as for how you got here..." Angelica shrugged her shoulders. "… no one knows."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. Somehow they had gotten here, though for the life of him he couldn't figure out how.
Luna woke, but kept her eyes closed. She felt warm and safe. Her body wasn't in pain anymore.
'I'm dead.' She thought.
When she finally did open her eyes, she saw pure white. The world was white and she was laying in white.
'Heaven...' She silently hoped.
Luna let her eyes wander and they quickly found a door. Through it she made out a shadow. A female shadow, with curly hair.
She tried to call out to the figure, but only managed a dry squeak in the back of her throat.
The door opened and for a moment Luna thought it was really her mother, coming to get her from this room and take her to heaven proper. The illusion quickly shattered however, when she looked at the young woman's face. She was smiling at the young girl, but Luna saw sadness in there too.
'Please, don't pity me...' She looked at the tray in the woman's arms and saw water, potion vials and food on it.
Looking around once more, Luna saw the bed, the nightstand and recognized the room. She was in Saint Mungo's. She hadn't died. She was still alive. A terrible pain spread throughout her soul and she curled up on her bed and started to cry.
It was later that day, when Harry was finally allowed out of bed. A nurse came to get him and showed him to the head healers office. A middle aged witch greeted him and asked him to sit.
"Well Harry, is it okay if I call you Harry?" She waited until he nodded his consent. "OK, you can call me Healer Warren if you like. Well Harry, that was quite the scare you gave us yesterday. You suddenly exploded into my ward, we can't explain how you got through the protections around St. Mungo's, but my niece at Hogwarts told me that the staff had to replace some wards yesterday. I didn't tell her about you of course."
Harry was shocked to hear all of that, the last thing he remembered was that he wanted to save the girl.
"Based on your facial expression, I don't think you know how any of this came to be?"
Upon him shaking his head, she continued.
"Very well, I'd like to perform a couple of tests on you. Some on your magical core. They usually require the ok of an adult guardian, but I think you can speak for yourself. Are you ok with the tests?"
Harry thought for a moment, but saw no harm in allowing it.
"Yes, do whatever test you deem necessary."
With a smile, she took out her wand.
"Then hold still for me please."
Luna had been laying in bed since she had awoken. She'd refused food and drink. Even after the nurse had threatened to force feed her. Her father had come after St. Mungo's had called him. They had tried to tell him how serious her condition had been. That she had attempted suicide, but her father had just looked at the woman with that far away look in his eyes.
Now he sat outside of her room, while the healer was checking her over. Her wounds had been healed, not even a scar remaining. Still she would not get up. She didn't find the strength in her to go out and face the world again. Luna wondered how long she could refuse the food they brought and if it was possible to starve herself to death before they would start to force her.
The healer left, her eyes held pity for her. 'I don't want your pity.' Luna turned to face the wall. If only she could lock out the world.
"This is very interesting Harry, did you know that there was a limiter on your core?"
Harry shook his head.
The healer shrugged. "Well sometimes powerful people like you place them on themselves by accident. If that was the case, you did a damn fine job. You barely could access a point something of your true potential."
She got quite curious. "Do you have your wand on you?"
Harry nodded, pulling it out of his pocket.
"Can you perform a summoning spell for me, say on my coffee mug?"
"But, we aren't allo…"
"Allowed to do magic outside of school?" She finished his sentence.
Harry nodded again.
"They don't track underage magic during the school year, far too much effort while they are all at school or being homeschooled." She leaned in closer. "Plus, in highly magical environments, they can't tell who did the spell and can't pin it on you." She pulled back again. "But I never told you that ok?"
Harry quickly agreed and pointed his wand at the mug.
He hadn't really expected the spell to work, not with all the difficulty he had been having. Therefore he was surprised as the mug shot straight toward his face. He thanked his seeker reflexes, as he ducked his head and the mug smashed into the wall behind him.
"Oh, I'm sorry. Reparo!"
The spell did its work. It even replaced the liquid in the cup.
Ellen Warren was fascinated.
"I'd hazard a guess, I think you'll master new spells way quicker now. Take some time and get used to the power you're casting with, I don't think you ever needed to think about it."
Still confused Harry shook his head.
"Well then, would you like to visit the young lady you saved last night? Maybe she'd like some company."
"Yeah, I'd like to see how she's doing."
With that Harry got up and left the office. He was just out the door, that Ellen got a bottle of whiskey from her desk and helped herself to a glass.
"Thank god his reserves are still rebuilding."
Luna was startled by a knock on her door, she had thought everybody would leave her alone for the rest of the day. She remained silent and was even more shocked by the sound of her door opening. She tried to feign sleep, but still hear steps approaching her.
A boy, his voice was soft and caring. For a moment, Luna wanted to get lost in his voice. She wanted to turn around and let this boy hold her. She mentally shook that thought from her head.
"I guess you don't want to talk. That's okay. I just wanted to check on you. After I found you by the lake yesterday… Well you were in a rough shape."
Luna felt her cheeks redden a little. She usually wasn't shy, but he had seen her naked. Touched her skin. It was enough to send hot and cold shivers down her spine. Part of her hated it, the other didn't.
"I don't know how we got here, I've never been here before. I'm just glad I got you to help in time."
Luna now felt righteous anger rise up inside her and she spun to face her "savior".
"Why! Why couldn't you just let me die!?"
Tears made their way down her face, while the boy took an instinctive step back.
Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, Luna stood on wobbly feet. Taking shaky steps toward him, she pointed her finger at him. He scooted backwards, while she berated him.
"I didn't ask you to save me, I didn't want you to prolong this purgatory of a life. I wanted it to end."
Her leg wobbled, another step. The boy was with his back against the wall. Her finger hit his chest.
"You looked at me, touched me, took advantage of me. All I wanted to do was die. Now I have to live and feel violated in so many ways."
Luna made a fist and swung it against his chest. She wasn't fair, but at them moment she didn't care. All her pent up frustrations trying to break loose, found a target.
Again and again, her fist connected with him. Over and over she repeated "Why?".
Suddenly, her legs gave out. Instead of hitting the floor however, she felt strong arms holding her. Looking up, she saw the tell tale scar on his forehead. Her savior had been Harry bloody Potter!
Harry had just stood there, allowing her to hit him. At least she had finally shown a reaction and anger was better than catatonia. As he had seen that her legs were giving out, he'd utilized his seeker reflexes to catch her midfall.
Looking up from where he held her, he could tell that her eyes had fallen on his scar. 'If only I could get rid of that goddamn thing!'
Picking up the girl bridal style, despite her protests, he sat her down in a chair next to her bed. He vaguely noticed that she seemed to be lighter than yesterday. Squatting down beside her, he sighed.
"Hi, I'm Harry. But you knew that already, right? What's your name?"
She looked at him with her round expressive eyes, they were almost as pale as her skin had been in the moonlight. He saw turmoil in them, her lower lip quivered as she answered.
"Why would you care? You'll leave the hospital and forget about me anyway."
A stray tear rolled down her cheek.
"I won't leave unless you're leaving with me… or if they make me, but I don't think they want to try that."
Harry ran a hand through his unruly hair. "Look… I… feel responsible for you now. I will go if I have to, but I won't be far if you need me. I will only return to Hogwarts, if you return there with me."
Shaking her head, tears now ran freely from her eyes.
"I'll never go back to that place. Never. Please tell me that I don't have to return, please."
She'd grabbed his arm. Begging with her voice as well as her eyes. Harry placed his hand over hers, shocked how much bigger it was compared to her slender one.
"Perhaps you'd first like to tell me what happened? Maybe not, but at least you could tell me your name."
"Luna." Her voice was thick with emotions.
Harry stopped for a moment, waiting if she would tell him more.
Luna didn't really intend to tell Harry anything, but after a couple of moments, the silence became unbearable. She opened her mouth just to fill the void in the room with something, but then the dam broke.
Before she could think to stop herself, she had blurted out all the secret stuff, the embarrassing stuff, the stuff she had sworn herself she'd never tell another soul.
Harry waited patiently, he didn't say anything, just squeezed her hand encouragingly.
After she had finished her tale, Harry gave her a hard to interpret look. Luna was certain that he would scorn her now. He would tell her that he didn't want her around, that she would only embarrass him.
When he finally spoke, his voice was thick with emotion as well.
"If only I had gotten to know you earlier."
Together they cried. Luna at some point hid her face in Harry's chest, while his tears fell atop her head. He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.
Harry looked up as the door opened and Angelica entered. The nurse had a tray with her, filled with potions, soup and water. He tried to get up and leave the room, so the nurse would be able to do her job properly.
Luna's tiny hand grabbed his shirt as he tried to stand.
Harry looked at Angelica, who nodded her consent. "Please stand over there, I just have to perform a couple of diagnostic spells. Then we'll try food again." She had sighed during the last bit.
The fact that Luna was already incredibly petit and seemingly hadn't eaten since coming here, convinced Harry to stay put. He waited patiently until the nurse had completed her spells and then tried to persuade Luna to eat some soup.
After a couple of failed tries by the nurse, Harry took the tray from her. He picked up Luna and sat her on the bed, while taking the chair himself. He got the bowl of soup and started to feed the traumatized girl.
To the great surprise of Angelica, Luna swallowed spoonful after spoonful of the warm liquid, drank some water and took her potions.
Luna wouldn't have admitted it to anyone, but talking to Harry and knowing that he was here with her, had given her hope that maybe life wasn't such a lost cause after all.