A/N: Not a hundred percent on this chapter. I'm sure I could do better, but I'm not going to rework this on my phone. So to bridge the gap until my new tech arrives, I give it to you as is...

Disclaimer:

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 heavily deals with mature themes, please don't read if you have a hard time stomaching these kinds of topics.

Lunar Eclipse

Phase 1: Apogee

Chapter 2: Waxing Crescent

Headmaster's Office, Hogwarts:

Albus Dumbledore was pacing the room. Before him sat the assembled Order of the Phoenix, what was left of it anyhow.

"We have a dire situation on our hands. Three days ago, Harry Potter just disappeared from the school grounds. Possibly related to his disappearance, the rune stone that has been upholding the Hogwarts wards for the past 1000 years has been badly damaged."

"Was Potter the only one that disappeared?" The gruff voice of Mad Eye asked from the back.

"I'm afraid so. We had the teachers take a headcount right after the incident and no one else was reported missing. We have to expect the worst right now. Harry has most probably been taken by Voldemort or his supporters. He is a prisoner at best, dead at worst."

All of this was proving to be too much for one Sirius Black.

"Are you trying to tell me, old man, that my godson disappeared under your watch, after you made him participate in some kind of fucked up magical contract. And now he's missing, presumed dead!?"

"Sirius, I understand that you are aggravated, but this isn't helping."

"You know what isn't helping, the fact that he disappeared, and you took three days to inform me. How dare you take your sweet time to inform me?!"

That, being a rhetorical question, no answer was expected. Sirius stood and turned towards the door.

"Forget using my house for your little club meetings and consider my membership revoked, I'll find my godson myself."

He opened the door and transformed into a big shaggy dog while making his way down the stairs.


St. Mungos, Harry's room:

Harry was lying on his bed, mulling over his stay at St. Mungos.

Over the last three days, Harry had spent his time by Luna's bedside. They had gotten to know each other better and Harry was sure that Luna would make a brilliant friend. She was smart, even exceptionally so. She still had some issues, not really trusting him.

He understood. Having had the same problems after coming to Hogwarts for the first time. He had met Ron on the train and, over time, they had gotten to know each other. Hermione had joined in just a bit later. Well if he was honest about it, he still withheld a lot from his friends. Especially concerning his past with his relatives.

It was more of a relaxed atmosphere that he wanted to create for Luna. He wanted her to know that she could trust him, he never wanted her to feel alone again. She hadn't talked to him about Hogwarts or why she'd tried to kill herself. To be honest, he wasn't keen on touching the subject either.

He felt that their first fragile tendrils of friendship might snap, if he broached those subjects too early. She talked about her childhood, about her parents and the fact that her mom had died.

Overall her childhood had sounded happy, at least a lot happier than his own had when he told her. Luna had at first doubted him, until he had taken off his shirt. He'd shown her the scars on his back from when he had been seven and Vernon had thought that a belt might be better at getting the freakishness out of him.

Harry wasn't quite sure, but he believed that sharing these things with her, things he hadn't even told Hermione or Ron, had strengthened their connection. So he had opened up to her more, told her of his first bedroom, of the insults and beatings, as well as his punishments and chores.

Upon hearing a knock at the door to his room, Harry glanced at the clock. It was just past midnight. Without waiting for an answer, Healer Warren burst in.

"Harry come with me! Quick!"

Without a moment's hesitation, Harry jumped from his bed and followed the head healer. They quickly found themselves following a familiar path.

"We're going to Luna's room, what's wrong with her!?"

Warren's lips were pressed into a thin line before she answered.

"She's having a psychotic episode. I hope that your presence will calm her down some, so she…"

Her voice trailed off, still Harry was sure that she had been about to say 'so she won't hurt herself'. He quickened his pace. Right in front of Luna's door stood a nurse Harry hadn't seen so far. She was complaining loudly to her colleague.

"I just wanted to help her undress, god knows she could do with a bath."

Harry stepped up to her. His eyes drilled right into hers.

"LEAVE!"

It was barely more than a whisper, but the word had so much force behind it. Her knees were threatening to buckle, and she quickly moved away from the boy with the killing curse eyes.

Turning Harry grabbed the door handle. Healer Warren wanted to stop him, shouting for him to wait, but he was already through the door. Inside, a topless Luna was holding Angelica at wand point.

"Luna, what is happening here?"

Her eyes flitted over to him.

"Harry? I can't...this is... I…!" Her breath hitched and her lower lip trembled.

"Luna, please lower the wand. Nobody here wants to hurt you. Please!"

After her arm lowered, Harry released a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

"You're right, that won't fix the problem. I know how to fix it."

With a quick motion, Luna pointed the wand at her own neck. Her already large eyes were opened wide, looking at nothing in particular. Her pupils dilated with her pulse.

"No! Luna! This won't solve anything!"

Tears welled up in Luna's eyes, as they focused on him.

"I want my mommy!"

Harry took a tentative step in her direction. "I know, but she wouldn't want you two to meet like that."

Another careful step. Luna screamed at him.

"How would you know! Your Mother has been dead your entire life."

Despite the fact that Luna was clearly not herself, Harry had to wince. The comment had stung.

"Maybe I don't. But do you think she would want this?"

The tip of the wand left her neck and Harry continued to inch closer. Her lips trembled as the tears started to fall.

"No! But I don't know what else to do!"

Luna was crying hard now and Harry had come within two steps of her. Fast, but gently, he pushed her arm down and wrapped her in a comforting hug. She didn't resist him and after a couple of seconds the wand she'd been holding clattered on the floor.

Holding onto him for dear life, Luna cried on Harry's shoulder. He gently stroked her back, allowing her to let go completely. He heard footsteps and someone picked up the wand, then the door was closed, and they were alone.

'Not quite.' Harry thought, feeling a prickling sensation in the back of his neck. He was sure that they were still monitored.

It took Luna a couple more minutes to calm down again. Once her breathing had calmed she started to sway on her feet.


Once she had calmed down, Luna became aware of her surroundings again. She noticed Harry holding her and her bare chest pushing into him. Her face flushed, which was silly she thought. Harry had seen her completely naked before after all.

"Harry? Could you get my shirt over there, I'm starting to feel cold."

He went to get the garment from the chair and Luna again felt silly for crossing her arms over her chest as he turned away. She felt so tired and weak all of a sudden and without warning her legs gave out.

Scooping her up mid-fall, Harry carried her over to her bed. He sat her down and, much to her embarrassment, helped her get dressed. He had just taken a seat on the chair closest to the head of her bed, as the Mind Healer entered the room.

Seeing that she had a death grip on Harry's sleeve, the Healer asked Luna if she wanted him to stay, or if Harry should leave the room. The fact that her hand tightened even further, was enough to convince the Healer to let Harry stay for now. He could still have the boy leave, if Luna was uncomfortable discussing matters in front of him.


Harry soon learned that a wizarding Mind Healer was much the same as a muggle psychiatrist. The man in his thirties asked Luna a couple of simple questions at first. Like name, age, and so on.

Seeing that she had already calmed down before he had entered the room, the Healer, his name was Holmes, didn't push any issues right away. The company of Harry seemed enough for now, but he had a nurse bring a dreamless sleep potion, so she could get undisturbed rest.

Soon after Luna had taken the potion, Healer Holmes said his goodbyes and left them with the suggestion to turn in soon.


As Harry turned to leave the room, after Luna was tucked under her covers, she grabbed his sleeve again.

"Don't go, please. Just stay with me tonight. You can sleep here, the bed is big enough, I just don't want to be alone. Please?"

After hesitating for a couple of long moments, Harry agreed and slipped into bed behind her. He spooned her, his arm resting on her hip, draped over her tummy. In his warm embrace, Luna fell into a deep sleep. It was the first real rest in a very long time.


Harry had woken early. Laying in bed, he just watched Luna sleep. She looked so peaceful. Her lips had parted slightly, and she produced the cutest snores he had ever heard. But then he only had Ron and his Uncle to compare. Her long blonde hair had become fairly tangled in her sleep and partially covered her face.

Looking at her, Harry had a feeling, not unlike drinking hot chocolate after a long day in the cold. It was comfortable and it felt right. He was unable to class that feeling, it was something he had only ever felt in Hogwarts and around his friends. Especially around Hermione.

He had done a lot of thinking the past couple of days and all things considered, Hermione was his best friend. Ron had usually doubted him before coming to terms, but Hermione had always been on his side. If only he could send her a letter and Sirius as well. Surely his godfather would be mad with worry.

Of course, Hermione's rule abiding nature made it difficult at times to confide in her. It was always possible that a teacher would be able to extract the information. Plus, at times, he wasn't sure if Dumbledore couldn't read minds.

'She has lied for me before and if I can make her understand how important it truly is, she'll keep my secret.'

Now he only needed a means to contact them.

A gentle knock on the window got his attention. Outside sat the most beautiful snowy owl in the whole world. Harry gently extracted himself from the bed and opened the window.

"Hedwig, you must be the smartest owl ever."

The owl answered him with a hoot, that Harry translated with 'and you better remember it'. Sneaking out to the nurse's office, he managed to grab two sheets of parchment and a self inking quill. He reentered Luna's room and sat at the small desk.


Luna cracked open one eye, the persistent sound of a quill scratching on parchment had woken her. She looked over to the desk and saw Harry leaning over a bit of parchment. After her outburst yesterday, all energy had left her. She just felt tired and her head was hurting.

"Hey Harry, watcha doin'?"

Her voice sounded muffled and dull. She tried to summon the energy to get up, but the strength wouldn't come.

"I'm writing a letter to my friend Hermione, I don't want her to worry. I'm not telling anyone where we are, just that we're fine and safe."

"Oh…"

For some reason, Luna was disappointed that Harry was writing to a girl.

"I also wrote a letter to my godfather, I hope it reaches him before he overreacts."

She watched in silence as Harry finalized his second letter, tied them to a beautiful owl and allowed her out the window with a promise of bacon.

"You and that owl, you've known each other for a while, huh?"

With a sad smile, Harry told her of his relationship with Hedwig.

"Her name's Hedwig, and she's the oldest friend I've got. I got her on my 11th birthday. Since then, we've spent the summers holed up together."

"Your oldest…" It took a moment, but then Luna realized… Harry never had friends growing up. Not only was he hated at home, but no one had wanted to be his friend. A sole tear made its way down her cheek. Rolling over her nose, it hit the bedsheet.

"But now you have loads of friends, right? You're Harry Potter, you must be universally liked, right?"

She winced at the desperation in her voice. Harry gave a sarcastic snort.

"Yeah right, I'm their savior one day, dark lord in the making the next! I'm a hero and a villain at the same time, and then I'm neither. I have probably one friend at Hogwarts right now and that's Hermione."

Luna's heart ached for the boy before her. To think that he was this strong and compassionate with barely any love in his life, it gave her strength. If Harry could be strong, maybe she could as well.

Pushing herself up from the mattress, she swung her legs over the edge of the bed and tried to stand. Her legs gave out beneath her immediately, and she fell to the floor.

"Unngh!"

"Luna!"

Harry helped her sit back down on the bed. Luna hadn't realized how weak she actually was. She had been eating for the past few days, but it had mostly been soup.

"I think I should exercise my legs a little."

"I think you should eat some real food, so you can regain your strength."


Harry looked at Luna's frail body, the child size Hospital PJ's hanging off her bony frame. Her cheeks had a sunken look to them, as did her eyes. It wasn't the bodily deprivation alone that had cost her, it was the mental strain of that Harry was sure.

A knock on the door distracted him for a moment. Healer Warren entered. She was a bit surprised to see him there, but quickly recovered.

"My, your early today Harry, I hadn't thought you'd be here yet. I'll have a nurse bring your food over as well, so you can have breakfast together."

She pushed a symbol on her belt.

"Now would you mind stepping outside for a moment, I want to have a look at Luna."


Luna looked at Harry's back as he left the room and instantly felt the doubt and fear return to the pit of her stomach. She looked at Healer Warren warily, unsure of what to expect.

The nurse had been quite rough to her yesterday. She hadn't let her no count when asking her if she'd like to take a bath and had then roughly pulled her shirt off. Luna had immediately felt like she had returned to her dorm in Hogwarts. Being forced to undress and being manhandled were commonplace there.

Ellen however, simply sat in the chair that Harry had just vacated.

After a couple of seconds, Luna lowered her head like a beaten dog.

"Don't you want me to undress, so you can do your examination?"

Her voice sounded dead, even to her ears.

"I really need to do that, yes, but after last night, I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to do that now. Maybe I should ask Harry to be here for that, he does seem to calm you down."

As much as Luna wanted to say yes to that, she didn't really want to undress anymore in front of him than absolutely necessary. She shook her head to the negative, while blushing quite hard.

After a deep breath to calm her nerves, the frail girl was ready and took her PJ's off. While she folded the garments, the silence was too much for her, and she began to explain.

"I didn't want to go mad like that yesterday. I'm sorry, it's just…" Luna chewed her lip before mumbling. "...memories."

Healer Warren looked at her file. The report from the night Luna entered the care of St. Mungo's stated that the girl had been covered in bruises. They hadn't known what caused them, but had taken pictures as was practice, just in case the evidence was needed later. She had often seen abuse, especially in the so-called pureblood households, where women often 'needed breaking in' when entering into their arranged marriages. In these cases, the evidence was not called upon, ever. Ellen pursed her lips as the bitter thoughts passed and held up one of Luna's pictures.

"Would you mind telling me who caused these 'memories'?"

Biting her lip again, Luna didn't say anything.

"It… It's not your father?"

Luna violently shook her head, tears threatening to spill. No, her dad was absent, but he had never hit her. He just forgot that she was there sometimes. Most times.

"A teacher?"

Again shaking of the head, tears flowing freely now. No, the teachers had forgotten about her as well, but hadn't resorted to physical violence.

"Classmates?"

Nodding this time, Luna was now crying hard. The naked frail girl crying her eyes out, it made Ellen tear up as well. Her professional mindset went out the window, she got up and wrapped the poor thing into a hug.

She felt Luna flinch on the first touch, and they both cried even harder. Her heart was bleeding for the young girl in her embrace. She felt maternal feelings swelling inside her, that she hadn't thought she was even able to have for anyone.

Luna took a moment, actually several moments, to relax a bit. Her hands snaked around the Healer, as some small part of her relished in the feeling of being held. A tiny portion she had long thought forgotten reared its head and so the unavoidable moment, where Ellen had to release the distraught girl, brought Luna neigh unbearable pain.

Clasping her arms around her naked form, Luna tried to hug herself. She tried to make the sudden cold and the emptiness inside her go away again. To no avail. Her sobs only intensified.

Ellen watched on in unabashed horror as the small figure on the bed started shaking and rocking. All the while bawling her eyes out. Taking a deep breath herself, she tried to weigh her next actions carefully.


Harry was a nervous wreck, as he paced in front of the door that led to Luna's room. A nurse had brought a small trolley that held their breakfast. She had suggested that he should eat up, lest his food would be cold, but Harry felt like his stomach was in a knot.

It already took the healer over 30 minutes to get back out, something was wrong of that Harry was sure. He could almost feel it.


Ellen wanted to give some more comfort to Luna. Wanted to stop her from receding into herself further. She tried to reach out to her, but immediately saw that it had been a bad choice. The young girl squeezing her eyes shut, leaning away from her hand. Almost like an animal that was beaten regularly. Luna didn't trust kindness that easily when it was offered to her.

Her mind racing, Ellen was stuck between a rock and a hard place. She knew that Harry had calmed her down before, but she risked at least her job and a lawsuit if she got a teenage boy to come in and comfort a naked teenage girl. The charges that could be construed from that would be manifold.

The other option would be their mind healer, and while that would be the professional option, he would take at least half an hour to get here. It wasn't even certain that his presence would improve upon the situation at hand.

With an exasperated sigh, she got up to open the door a crack.


Harry stopped his pacing as the door to Luna's room opened a crack and the healer's face appeared in it.

"Harry quick, I need you in here."

Warren's voice was just a loud whisper, but Harry was already moving after seeing the look on her face. Something was wrong with Luna again. It was the same expression she had worn on the day before.

He entered, and seeing Luna's state of undress, quickly closed the door behind him. His eyes glued to his shoes, he inquired about the situation at hand.

"What is happening? Another episode like yesterday?"

Ellen nodded quickly.

"Most likely. I don't know exactly how I caused it, but it wasn't the undressing part like before. She did that herself. I think it was what we talked about. Now please, help me calm her down."

With a deep breath, Harry brought his gaze up and slowly approached Luna, like one would approach a wounded unicorn. Quietly, careful not to raise his voice at all, he tried to get her attention.

"Luna? Luna, look at me."

Slowly the rocking stopped, the girl in question just sitting on her bed, arms clasped around her, eyes empty.

Harry continued to inch his way forward. He continued to talk to the traumatized girl, like one would to a wounded animal.

"Luna, I'm here. Everything's going to be fine now."

Once again, tears fell from her eyes. Without looking at him, she replied.

"No…" Luna's voice was breaking. "Nothing will ever be again."

One more step in her direction, Harry was only a couple of feet from her frail form.

"It might look like that at the moment, but I promise you, you will be okay again."

Her eyes raised to meet his gaze. The expression in them was fierce.

"No. Right now, everything is going to be okay. But then we will return to school. Then you will forget about me. You will return to your friend Hermione and won't need me anymore. Then you too will forget about me. Nothing will ever change. There is nothing good in my life, not now, not ever. There is only you…" Luna was crying again by this point. Tears were flowing down her cheeks unchecked. "But you're not for me to keep. You'll forget about me."

Harry had slowly crept forward and now was within reach. He grabbed her by the shoulders.

"Never! I will never forget about you. How could I? After how we've met. After all the talking we've done. I could never forget you again."

Ignoring her nakedness, Harry tried to embrace the naked girl before him. She pushed him away. Pushed with more force than her frail body should have allowed for. Harry, unprepared, fell backwards and hit his head on the floor. He felt the sharp pain of his skin splitting open. His head was spinning, and he had a ringing in his ears.


Luna snapped out of her daze to the view of Harry laying on the ground. On the white tiles underneath his head, a small red pool was slowly spreading.

Her hands started shaking. Healer Warren was already on her feet casting spells on the fallen boy, but to Luna's mind, he was dead for a moment. The only decent human being, the first person to treat her nicely for years. Dead, by her hand. Then she saw that his chest was still moving. He was breathing.

"I… I didn't want that to happen. It was an accident… please…"

Luna's meek voice barely had enough force to penetrate the suddenly tense air in the room. Ellen ignored her, having a much more pressing case at hand. Harry was badly concussed. She was rapidly casting diagnostic spells, but couldn't quite discern whether his brain had been damaged beyond the obvious concussion.

Deciding to quickly act, before any further damage could befall the savior of the wizarding world in her care, she had Harry's body levitate beside her. She quickly left the room, not realizing how big the mistake was she just made.


Luna watched as the healer quickly left her room, Harry's body trailing her. Alone, for the first time in so many hours, she felt the voice inside her return.

It was the voice of her self-doubt, the same voice she had heard that day by the lake. It told her of the fact that Harry would hate her now. He would have been there for her, but now no longer. She had blown it, her first chance at happiness in a very long time, and the last one at that. It would be better for her to end it now, just leave this world.

Looking around her, Luna inspected the room through the watery veil of her tears. While the voice instructed her on what to do.


Harry came to, felt nauseous and lent over the side of the gurney, he found himself on. The motion made him so sick that he threw up twice in a row. Gentle hands pushed him back down into a laying position. Ellen's blurry face entered his field of vision.

"Can you hear me, Harry? How many fingers am I holding up?"

Anywhere from three to nine fingers entered his view. Harry's head hurt, and he felt nauseous again as he tried to align the images that moved before his eyes.

"Six...maybe?"


Ellen breathed a sigh of relieve. Harry had reacted to his name and his answer wasn't too far off. She looked to her colleague for his diagnosis.

The young brain healer cast his last diagnostic spell and looked at the colors that had Harry's skull look like a rainbow, while he answered.

"Just a concussion. It's a bad one, but could have been far worse. I have a potion that should fix him right up."

He got a vial from one of the cupboards in his office. Using his wand, the potion was soon zipping through the air and down Harry's throat.

While their patient gasped for air as his brain healed, Ellen was instructed on how to care for him.

"He should take things easy, at least for a couple of days. If he overtaxes himself, the symptoms could return even worse than before."

Ellen was nodding, but before either could react, Harry had his feet on the ground, running for the door.


'Luna!' was the only thought in Harry's mind as he tried to quickly navigate the somewhat unfamiliar corridors of the floor he was currently on.

He found the stairs and taking two at once made his way down, down to where he knew that Luna was. Alone. In her room. After the accident. He quickened his steps and was in a flat out sprint as he came to the corridor where the familiar door was beckoning him.

In mid run, Harry grabbed the door handle, halting his moment and opening the door. The room was empty, his mind was panicking. He saw the door to the small bathroom was closed. Without hesitation, Harry pounded on the door.

"Luna! Luna, open up! Open up, or I'll break down the bloody door! Luna!" His voice changed to a whisper. "Please be alive."

Harry then noticed the moisture coating his toes. Looking down, he saw the red pool that slowly spread from beneath the door. He was powered by pure panic, as he lifted his hands and the door disintegrated.

Before Harry could even realize that he had just practiced wandless magic, the grizzly sight in the tiny room caught his eye. Luna, still naked, was on the floor. The shattered mirror over the sink. The long shard in her hand. Her gaping neck.


"No, no, no, NO!"

Ellen was rounding the corner hearing the shout coming from Luna's room. Her quick pace hastened into a full out sprint. Two colleagues from the emergency ward were following her closely.

They entered the room, and immediately she saw Harry kneeling in a pool of blood in the doorway that lead to the bathroom. Ellen's heart almost stopped at the sight.

She turned to her colleagues urging them on to quickly help the girl. Praying that her patient was still alive.

If Luna had died, if she had committed suicide while she had left her alone, Ellen would never forgive herself. She had only thought of Harry and his physical injuries. Luna and the psychologic damage this dealt to her, had not been considered.

She was quite shocked to see the toughened emergency healers scramble backwards. Hurrying forward, she risked a look at whatever had them look on in disbelieve.

Harry knelt over Luna's prone form on the floor. His hands and eyes were glowing a bright green. One of his hands was resting on her chest, while the other was moving in and out of the massive neck wound, that seemed to be the source of the rather large pool of blood.

To her amazement, the wound slowly was closing. Luna's skin had seemingly regained a little tinge of color. At least her lips looked to be a lot less blue. Just before the wound had fully closed, Harry's wrist split open and in a small stream, his blood siphoned into Luna.

She and the other Healers looked on in shock as ounce after ounce of blood left the young wizard and entered the frail young witch on the ground. It kept flowing, while the glow around Harry's other hand started pulsing slowly. After roughly two minutes of this, Luna's eyes flew open, and she gasped for air.

Harry's blood continued to stream. Ellen realized that if Harry kept it up, he would not leave enough for himself.

She screamed as the thought hit her. "Stop Harry! We can take it from here! Stop or you'll die!"

Despite her protest, the blood continued to flow. The head Healer was already sure that the amount Harry had left was low. It was a wonder that he was still conscious.

"Harry please!"

To her surprise, his concentration seemed to break this time. The bloodstream died down and Luna's neck healed fully. Harry got up and the glow started to diminish around him. He turned to the assembled healers.

"Help her, make sure that she is okay. I'm not that important, I'll be fine."

Harry managed to say no more as he collapsed on the ground.

Ellen quickly sprung into action. One of the emergency healers turned to check on Harry, while his colleague closed in on the bathroom to help Luna.

The girl in question sat in a curled up position, huddled into the corner. Tears were continuously flowing down her face, while sobs racked her body.


It was a full day later, that found Luna, with a nurse keeping an eye on her, at Harry's bedside.

She had spent a lot of time talking with Healer Holmes, her mind healer. He had asked her questions and listened to how she had experienced the events that had led up to her second attempt at suicide.

He had tried talking to her about her feelings and the way she quickly felt rejected by her relations, but Luna wasn't ready to open up about it. Not even close. Holmes had cleared her, but had one stipulation.

All sharp and dangerous objects had been taken from her room last night. She had no mirror, no metal objects that could have a burr, and certainly nothing long and sturdy enough to support her weight from the ceiling.

Sighing deeply, she glanced at her 'Nanny'. Luna was only allowed privacy in her room. The spells on the bathtub had been modified, allowing only a shallow puddle of water in it. Enough so she could clean up, not enough to… well.

Sighing again, Luna snaked her hand into Harry's. She held it tightly. Harry had only known her for a very short while, but still showed her such unconditional lo...loyalty. Her cheeks reddened a bit at the silly thought she had almost allowed herself.

Maybe, just maybe, she didn't want to be certain so soon, as all the years of conditioning still lurked shadow-like in her mind, but maybe she had found the first real friend in her life.