"Ah!" he yelped, turning around wide-eyed with startlement.
Luna Lovegood in her silvery dress tilted her head at him curiously. A strand of her pale blonde hair fell free across her forehead, drawing his eye to it and then the sparkling dress she wore, standing in such bright contrast against the dark grey of Hogwarts' stone corridors he had been hiding against, her eyes shining like two bright dots in the dimness, unnervingly clear and piercing.
"Oh, it's just you, Luna..." Harry began but then paused as he peered suspiciously around the corner again, checking whether he had been heard. Leaning out and seeing that no one was there any longer, he let out a heavy-held sigh. One of both embarrassment and relief of not having been discovered skulking about by either Snape or Malfoy.
Either of them would have been a much less pleasant run-in than Luna, for certain. His nose sometimes still didn't feel quite right on his face.
"Oh no, are the Wrackspurts back?" Luna asked dreamily, her nose wrinkling as she stared at something floating past his left ear. "Did you not like the party?"
"Uh, Wrackspurts...? No, the party was just fine, fine. I, uh..." He grasped for something to say, suddenly realizing he had all but abandoned his date—a friendly date, as friends, that is—as he had stalked after Malfoy and Snape after Filch had thrown the former out of Slughorn's party.
He began wondering whether he should feel guilty about that. He shook his head.
"It's just, I saw Malfoy and I know he's up to something! But Hermione keeps telling me I'm just imagining things, and Ron won't get his head out of his..."
He trailed off with arms raised, realizing he was rambling and trying to explain why he had left her without actually apologizing. "I hope I didn't ruin your night, Luna."
Luna did not say anything to that, only continuing to stare at him with unblinking eyes. Sensing that he had nothing more to say, she nodded. "Oh. That's alright Harry. I had a lot of fun tonight." She looked away, then. "It's the first time anyone has taken me to a party like this. I'm not quite sure how one usually ends an evening like this, as friends."
Suddenly, that sense of a mix of burning shame and heavy pity he had come to associate with Luna returned. "Luna, look, I'm really sorry about you just leaving you like that. I didn't mean to, but I just left before I knew it, when I saw Malfoy."
She smiled at him, accepting his apology without hesitation.
He too, smiled, before a thought occurred. "Wrackspurts...?"
"Oh, yes. They're small creatures that—"
"That make your head go fuzzy, you mentioned them before, yeah. I think..." Harry nodded as he looked away, missing the small smile Luna now sported. "That was how you found me on the train, under the cloak, right?"
She nodded once bouncing on her heels twice as if she was enjoying herself.
"Does, that is... Do other people have them, too?"
"Oh, yes! Quite a few people. Everyone seems to be quite fuzzy in the brain these days."
He faltered at that, realizing that perhaps this idea wasn't worth exploring after all. If one could even call it that. Maybe he should have thought things through a bit more, before asking Luna for help. It wasn't as if she was the most reliable of people. Or rather, she was, but...
"You're very grim tonight, Harry. Is it about You-Know-Who?" Luna asked suddenly, leaning forward conspiratorially as she whispered, breaking him out of his thoughts.
He blinked, before admitting somewhat sheepishly that it wasn't so. "Uh, err, no. Not exactly."
"Oh..." She said, nodding once and she seemed to almost deflate.
Footsteps echoed around the corner and Harry tensed up at the sound, frowning as he glanced back and forth between Luna and the corner he had been eyeing around minutes before.
Luna meanwhile only peered up at him, curious to see what he would do.
"Sod it," Harry murmured as he wrapped an arm around Luna and pulled her close, eliciting a small gasp of surprise from her. At the same time, his hand reached into his pocket and pulled out his cloak of invisibility, casting it over them both with a flourish, and pressed his back to the wall. "Don't make a sound..." he whispered, pulling her a little bit closer and making sure the cloak covered both of their feet. It was good that she was as slim and short as she was - there was no way he could have fit someone like Ron with him under to cloak these days.
With a final gesture of his index finger raised to his mouth, he stilled.
Moments later Snape came stalking down the hallway, sweeping past them with his billowing black cloak darkening even the ancient walls, like a dancing malevolent shadow. He could feel Luna peering around, straining to remain motionless while still trying to see what was happening.
The potions professor marched past them with such speed that the air rushed with him, disturbing the cloak pooled around them just enough that suddenly Harry could feel cool air at his ankles. Luna felt it too, judging by the small gasp or surprise she let out.
Snape halted, frowning as he turned around. His beady black eyes narrowed as he scanned the dark corridor, and in response, Harry unconsciously pressed his back harder against the wall and pulled Luna closer. Snape sneered, casting one more glance around him before he continued his stalking back to wherever it was that he was going.
Harry let out the breath he hadn't realized he had been holding, the air rushing out and messing up Luna's hair. She sniffed and suddenly he felt extremely conscious of their closeness. Forcing himself not to just push her off, he deliberately stepped away from the wall and removed the cloak.
"Sorry, I uh..."
He struggled for words.
Luna looked up at him, eyes dreamy and a slight flush coloring her face. "That was quite exciting..." She whispered happily.
He had to chuckle at that. "Yeah, it was."
"Walking around after curfew with a cloak like that must be much more pleasant than without. Not to mention less likely to lose house points."
"Yeah, tell me about it," he agreed before shaking his head. "It's more than that, though. Snape is helping Malfoy: I heard them talking about it. He said he made an Unbreakable Oath or something, but Malfoy didn't seem impressed. But, but I know they're up to something!"
"Oh...!" Luna's eyes widened, her hands rising up to cover her mouth. "An Unbreakable Vow?"
"Yeah, that's it," he said with a grin, snapping his fingers at her as she said the words. "That's what he said."
She blinked staring down at his raised hand curiously before looking down at her own hand. She tried to mimic his finger-snap, without success.
"That Unbreakable Vow, what is it?" Harry asked, ignoring her obvious interest in his hand for now.
"Oh, it's an Unbreakable Vow, Harry," Luna explained, looking up with a very serious expression. "You can't break it, because it's unbreakable. Or you could, but then you would die."
He had been about the make a dry remark that he had already figured out the first part for himself, but the latter half of what she had said gave him pause. "Wait... die? As in, die, die?"
She nodded very seriously, the usually dreamy look in her eyes now nowhere to be seen, indicative of just how abnormal a thing that was.
"I knew there was something going on! Malfoy had something to do with Katie getting hurt, I know it. I saw him at Borgin & Burkes, too. He was asking all sorts of questions, but I just can't figure out what he's planning..."
Luna hmm'ed thoughtfully in response to his continued grumbled. Then she tilted her head, thinking aloud as she spoke. "He does have a lot of Wrackspurts about him..."
Harry perked up - hadn't that been just what he had been thinking about asking her? "More than usual? I mean, like, lots and lots of them? McGonagall gave him detention for falling behind in Transfiguration, so he's got to be up to something!"
She nodded once. Somehow the contrast between Luna talking about her strange animals and the gravity of the topic created a strange shift in her usual behavior. He almost felt guilty about dragging her creatures—obviously something she very much enjoyed—into a topic this grim, but...
"Luna, could you, I don't know, perhaps use these Wrackspurts to track Malfoy or something?"
She looked at him, silvery eyes serious and sharp as they peered up at him. Expectant, almost wary, he thought. As if she was judging him, yet hoping for something. He didn't really know what to believe of her animals, but it was a lead. And she was the only one who seemed to believe him about Malfoy.
"You two do seem to attract them the most..."
He couldn't afford to not follow up on this.
"Luna, please? It would mean a lot to me if you could help me," he pleaded.
Her expression softened into a smile as an intense look took to her eyes. She nodded once and turned around, skipping away from him. "I'll need my spectrespecs, Harry. I was told not to bring them to the party, you see, even though the would have very much matched my dress."
Grinning, he rushed after her. "Let's go then."
As they walked back to Ravenclaw Tower, she mused to herself. "Do friends walk each other back after the party, too...?"
The Ravenclaw common room had been interesting, even so late into the night and darkened.
He hadn't been able to walk with Luna the whole way into her dorm, but that was probably for the best. Who knew what kind of wards were in place in the Ravenclaw girl's dorm. He had thought that it would be fine to stay outside the entrance but she had pulled him along without a word, skipping with every step all the way up.
Feeling rather ridiculous in his dress robes, sitting in the empty common room, he wondered what people would say if they saw him here. Maybe he should take out his cloak and hide for now, or... He jumped up once he heard her coming back down. And barely managed to hold back his snort at the sight of Luna wearing the rather garish glasses again. They did match the sparkling of her dress, but fell far short in terms of its appeal.
She tilted her head, but because the spectrespecs covered most of her face he couldn't quite tell what she was thinking of his reaction. For a moment he hesitated, feeling rather foolish again. Maybe this would just be a waste of time.
"You don't want to change clothes, Luna? We could do this another time..." he asked, eyeing her dress again.
"Oh, are you tired, Harry?"
He shook his head, before biting back a curse. She had just given him a good out and he had answered honestly without thinking.
"That's good," she said with a smile. "The Wrackspurts won't move until morning when people are up and fuzzy again."
He blinked, excitement bubbling anew within him as he grinned. "Right, so we can find Malfoy's tracks if we go looking now?"
"Mhmm," she said with an airy nod.
Harry got up and rushed over to her, grabbing her hand as he turned to walk to the entrance again. "Let's go then. We don't have all night!"
It had been two hours, now.
They had almost been caught twice already, but with the help of the Cloak of Invisibility and the Marauder's Map, they had managed to explore much of the castle.
Exploring mostly meaning following Luna as she skipped through hallways and chambers, peeking into various classrooms and broom closets while humming quietly. Harry yawned, biting back the worst of the gesture by putting his fist into his mouth. Blearily stretching and rubbing the sensation of sand out of his eyes, he ran a hand through his hair as he sighed.
This wasn't really working out as he had hoped.
Still, glancing at Luna, he supposed it wasn't a complete waste of time.
"Oh," she suddenly exclaimed as she stopped. Turning around, she looked around and by the set of her mouth, Harry suspected she was frowning.
He too now looked around and finally noticed something. It was the painting of Barnabas the Barmy. Turning around with a deep frown, he stared at the patch of bare wall opposite the picture. Wasn't this where the Room of Requirement was?
Could Malfoy have been trying to do something with it?
Glancing at Luna who was still curiously walking around, he decided to try it.
"The room Malfoy last visited, the room Malfoy last visited, the room Malfoy last visited..." he muttered under his breath as he walked back and forth. But, nothing happened. No door, no room. Scowling, he tried again but this time he thought of the room he had been using last year with the D.A.
Opening the door that appeared, he stared into the familiar training hall. Behind him, Luna was peering under his arm at the room curiously. "Are you thinking about starting the D.A. again, Harry?"
She sounded hopeful, reminding him suddenly of her asking that during the train ride. "Err, no... I was just testing it. It couldn't tell me which room Malfoy was last in, so I thought it might have been broken."
"Oh..." She nodded, once again serious. "May I try?"
"Knock yourself out," he said with a gesture as he closed the door.
"Maybe later," she dreamily commented, giving him pause for a moment.
She walked before the blank space of wall three times and he suddenly wondered whether he had ever told her how to use the room. But as the door appeared, he couldn't deny that she seemed to know what she was doing.
Turning around to look at him, she smiled. "I asked for the room with the most Wrackspurts in it."
He chortled, not sure if she was serious. At her slight frown—or what he thought was a frown, given that her spectrespecs were still hiding most of her face—he cleared his throat. "Better keep your mouth closed when you open the door, then."
"Well, if the room is full of Wrackspurts, you'd get a mouthful of them if you're not careful..." he explained.
There was a moment of utter stillness before she suddenly began to giggle, until her amusement steadily grew into a full-blown belly laugh that shook her whole body. Harry almost jumped out of his skin at her reaction. "Ah, Luna, shh, not so, not so loud..." He looked around, as it expecting Snape to come stalking around the corner any second now.
But Luna only shook her head with mirth, taking off her garish glasses, she wiped tears from her eyes as she reached for the wall for support. Unable to help himself, Harry had to chuckle quietly, sharing some of her levity. It had been a pretty long night after all.
"That's so funny, Harry! You would go completely fuzzy if there were that many Wrackspurts. We'd forget what we were doing and they would find us walking around Hogwarts, completely lost tomorrow morning."
"Yeah, they'd probably think we spent the night snogging ourselves silly in a broom closet, huh?"
That gave her pause, but a second later her laughter returned in doubled amount. Waiting for her to calm down, he drew his wand and settled next to the door.
Finally, after she got herself back under control, Luna drew her own wand and settled on the opposite side of the door, more to mirror his actions than in any real attempt at using it for cover. They exchanged a look as Harry reached out for the handle, but as Luna raised her other hand to cover her mouth he almost cracked and started laughing again. From the dancing mirth in her eyes, it was obvious it had been an intentional gesture.
He reached over and grasped the handle, pulling it open and stepping back and away from the door as he did with his wand at the ready. But nothing came out. Or at least, nothing he could see. Looking at Luna who had put on her spectrespecs again, he waited for her to take the lead.
"No Wrackspurts, Harry."
He let out a sigh of relief, putting away his wand. The thought of the room creating a space full of invisible creatures that made his head go fuzzy didn't sit right with him, so he was glad to find out the room couldn't just create them. Maybe there was some kind of charm to repel the things he could learn...? And didn't this more or less confirm that the creatures did exist - at least in the eyes of Hogwarts...?
Later, he reminded himself.
Taking the lead he peered into the room, gasping at the sight before him.
Mountains of junk, towering far above and away into the depths of a massive room. Dusty cloaks, old books, warped chairs, legless tables, and unused beds, lying in piles upon piles upon piles... Everything and anything he could imagine. Broken and rusted suits of armour, swords, and even a bloody battleaxe just laying around.
Harry swallowed, turning to look at Luna.
"Well, we found something."
She nodded, entering cautiously with her wand still held aloft.
Guided by Luna's renewed lead, Harry followed. At first, he was sure she knew what she was looking for, but soon it became apparent that they were just lost and wandering in circles. Or that Luna was too fascinated by everything around them and had forgotten what they had come here to do. He had to admit that he was looking around with quite a bit of amazement himself as well, so couldn't fault her much for it.
Finally, after fifteen minutes of walking, they came to a halt before a large cabinet. One that Harry recognized immediately. "That's the broken cabinet, from the first floor. The one the twins talked about..."
Lune turned around to look at Harry, raising the spectrespecs up so that they acted like a hairband. "The Wrackspurts are here."
"Should we... maybe step back a bit?" he wondered, having gained a newfound respect and fear for the things.
"Oh, no. They're asleep right now," Luna assured him with a smile.
He nodded with a grin, before walking forward to investigate the cabinet more closely. Opening both doors widely, he stuck his head inside and... found nothing. But he noted that it was large enough for him to get inside, much like the other one he remembered seeing in Borgin & Burkes in his second year.
"I don't remember ever seeing this cabinet..." Luna noted as she stood behind him.
"Yeah, it was a bit hidden..." Harry explained before a grin sprouted on his face. Turning around to look at Luna who was now standing on her toes some feet away from him, he continued. "I only remember it because Fred and George told me they shoved Montague in it last year, when he was being particularly foul with his 'inquisitorial duties'. He was gone for weeks!"
She blinked owlishly, gasping at the story. But she didn't laugh as he had expected her to, seeming more shocked and curious than anything else. "Was he alright?"
"Err, I guess. He came back, sometime later from what I heard," he explained, somewhat lamely.
She nodded, seemingly satisfied. "So, it's a Vanishing Cabinet, then."
"Right." He nodded. "But what does Malfoy want with it?"
Was he trying to make something vanish? Was that why he had been trying to smuggle in Dark jewellery from Hogsmeade? To what... Dispose of it? Scratching his head, Harry didn't quite get it. There had to be better ways of going about stuff like that, though. Wouldn't it make better sense to bring in the jewellery to frame Dumbledore, or curse him? Why try and make it vanish with the cabinet? Couldn't you just do that with the spell, too?
"I wonder where its pair is..." Luna mused, bringing Harry back from his own thoughts.
"Pair?" he repeated.
"Oh yes. What you put in one goes into the other. Or so I have heard. A bit strange, if you ask me. Vanished things go into non-being, usually, they don't pop up when someone tries to vanish something else, after all." she stated, wrinkling her nose in thought.
"That would be a bit barmy for a cabinet though, wouldn't it? You put your things in and then when you need them again, they're gone? Wouldn't you rather have a vanishing spell in—I don't know—a bin or a pot?"
"Oh, so it's a switching cabinet?" she asked curiously, before shaking her head seriously. "But that doesn't alliterate, it's no good as a name."
He frowned, unable to come up with an adequate answer. Finally, he only shrugged, turning back to investigate the cabinet. He walked around the cabinet, exploring it from every angle, finally settling behind it. Crouching down, he noted that there were signs of recent tampering near the rear left foot of the cabinet, though to what end he didn't know.
As he was looking, Luna's words weighed heavily on his mind.
The cabinet had a pair.
The cabinet looked just like the one in Borgin & Burkes.
Then it hit him; Malfoy wasn't trying to vanish—or switch—something from Hogwarts, he was trying to vanish something at Borgin & Burkes and bring it into Hogwarts past its wards!
"Luna, I got it, it's—" Harry shouted, standing up and rushing back around the cabinet.
But she wasn't there. He blinked looking around owlishly before frowning.
"Luna?" She wasn't there, he was alone in the gigantic room. His wand snapped into his hand and he cried out, "Luna!"
The only answer he received was a faint echo of his own cry; she wasn't there.
He turned around, dread mounting, as he stared at the cabinet. His eyes were drawn to the spectrespecs laying on the shelf, next to the closed cabinet door. The door he had left partially open after checking the insides out earlier.
Jerking open the cabinet door, he stared inside.
"Lumos," he said as he brought his wand out to light up the insides properly. But it was empty. He closed the cabinet, opening it again but there was no change.
"Luna! Can you hear me?" he shouted now, repeating her name several more times as he turned around and peered around the massive room. Hoping beyond hope that she would come traipsing in from behind some pile or another. But she was nowhere to be found.
He swallowed, turning back to the cabinet.
She must have jumped inside to figure out where it went, where the other cabinet was. She was like that, more guts and imagination than good sense. It was why she had come with him to the Ministry, why she had come with him tonight, unlike any sensible person would have. He couldn't just leave her, he thought as he wrenched open the cabinet again and hopped inside. He had to find her and make sure she was alright - he wasn't going to lose anyone else. Not if he could help it, not while he still had breath left in him!
The cabinet door closed with a soft thud, his wand-light illuminating the cramped space just enough for him to start feeling claustrophobic and remind him of his childhood.
And then his stomach fell through the floor. Tumbling, he let out a shout of surprise which was soon joined in by a gasp and a cry of pain and surprise beneath him.
"L-Luna? Is that you? Are you alright?" he struggled to get off her as he held his wand with one hand and after a moment of tangled limbs and awkward shuffling, he managed to sit down opposite Luna.
"Hello Harry," she greeted him dreamily.
Letting out a deep sigh of relief, he could only palm his forehead. "Hello, Luna."
There was a moment of awkward silence as neither could quite figure out what to say. It was obvious that they hadn't appeared in the other cabinet as Luna had hoped, but rather become trapped in some other place, perhaps between the two cabinets. At least, that was what he hoped had happened. The alternative was that they had truly been vanished scattered into non-being - a rather unattractive possibility at the best of times, really.
Regardless, where there had been lacquered wood, there was now indeterminable darkness around them that swallowed all the light from his still-lit wand. It was as if they were inside a firm but pliable pouch of some kind, containing them in nothingness.
"Are you alright?" he asked finally.
"Yes, thank you. You didn't fall very hard on me, Harry, though you do have very bony knees."
"Oh, umm, sorry." He grimaced, suddenly sheepish. Hoping for a distraction, he looked around, raising his wand to see if they could find something. "Any idea where we are?"
It was dark and cramped. Not at all like the inside of the cabinet, instead, they were surrounded by nothing but wholly impenetrable darkness.
"I don't know." She shook her head. "But I could hear you shouting earlier, Harry. It was as if you were near and far at the same time," Luna said, her protuberant eyes shining in the darkness, reflecting his magical light almost supernaturally in this space where nothing else did. Were her eyes always this...
"Oh," he replied with a frown, looking away, pretending to look around again. "Then, why didn't you answer? I thought you might have been hurt."
"Well, I did try..." she too looked away at his accusing tone.
"Really? I didn't hear anything." Harry shook his head. "Nevermind, I'm just glad you're not hurt."
She nodded, before blinking as if she had remembered something. "Oh, I found the lost Ravenclaw diadem."
Holding up an old silver tiara she looked extraordinarily pleased with herself. It was made out of swept strings of silver, coming together at the front to form a beak-like shape right above the nose, if one were to wear it. He could only blink and nod, seeing the thing, finding it quite plain-looking, to be honest.
"That's good, I suppose."
"Yes, 'wit beyond measure is man's greatest treasure,'" she sing-sang while holding the tiara in her outstretched hands, obviously happy with her find.
Harry frowned, suddenly reminded of something. "Are the others, umm... stealing and hiding your things again, Luna? Not the Nargles, I mean."
Luna blinked at him owlishly, tilting her head in obvious curiosity at his question. "Well, yes... But it's not so bad. My things always have a way of finding their way back, after all. Why do you ask, Harry?"
"Well, I mean, you found your tiara here, so I only thought..."
She blinked at him again, this time with her mouth hanging open. Then smiled and let out a bell-like laugh. "Oh no, Harry. This isn't my diadem, it's Rowena Ravenclaw's! It's been lost for centuries. Like Godric's sword until you found it."
Well, now he only felt silly. But blustering past his growing blush, he decided not to accept it at just that. "Well, it doesn't matter right now. I'll help you find your other things. Once we get out of here, I mean."
She smiled slightly at that, not saying anything.
"I mean, it's only fair that I help you find something after you helped me find something."
Her mouth formed a perfect o at that, as she considered his words. "Thank you, Harry. It could be fun, almost like Hallow Hunting."
He wasn't sure what that was, but the name reminded him of another game he had been forced to participate in when he had been younger, which soured his uplifted mood slightly. Answering with a sour grunt, he returned his focus to their current predicament.
"Anyhow, we should get out of here first."
"I suppose that means we cannot wait here to be rescued," she ventured finally.
"Not from Hogwarts anyhow... I didn't exactly tell anyone I was going to go around tracking Malfoy in the night... Did you, err, tell anyone?" he asked, trying not to sound too hopeful. As she shook her head, he could only sigh. "Right, well... See if you can't find a cabinet door to push open..."
They fumbled around in the impenetrable darkness for several minutes until they both had to give up. There was nothing like that to be found here.
"Perhaps you could apparate us out of here, Harry? Have you had your apparition lessons yet?"
He grimaced. "No... We haven't even signed up, yet. Sorry."
"Besides, with Hogwarts' wards, we might not even be able to do so."
"The other cabinet might not be warded, however," she countered.
"Well, who knows where that is... Regardless, I don't know how to. Much less side-along apparating the both of us. And I'm not leaving you behind in any case."
They sat there in silence for an indeterminate while. Luckily they had at least eaten something at Slughorn's party, so they weren't hungry. And air did not seem to be an issue either. But at this rate, it would seem that they would have to sleep in the cabinet before anything changed.
Time stretched on awkwardly until Harry was certain that he was about to fall asleep. He tried to fight his growing fatigue, but it had been a long day already, even before Slughorn's Christmas party, and after that, it had been even longer. He tried to think of a clever solution to their predicament; burning the cabinet while using flame freezing charms on themselves; blowing their way out with a Reductor curse; using a Patronus charm to call for help...
But none of those seemed like valid solutions. The flame might not find anything to burn aside from their valuable air, and the Reductor curse could only blow solid objects out of their way. Those two spells might not work seeing as how they weren't actually inside either cabinet. For all he knew, they weren't even in any specific place that they could just physically get out of either. The Patronus had seemed like a solution until he had remembered that he didn't know how to send a message with his ethereal stag.
He felt so stupid now, having rushed in to join Luna. He should have gone for help. Dumbledore would have known how to rescue her and that way they wouldn't have both been stuck here. At this rate, no one would be able to tell what had happened to them and Malfoy would have free reign to continue with his plot while everyone was busy looking for them.
With these heavy thoughts taking over, and though try as he might resist, his heavy eyelids were slowly winning against his attempts at remaining awake.
"Oh..." Luna exclaimed beside him, waking him up slightly again. Harry shook his head and frowned at the Ravenclaw, trying to figure out what she was doing.
She turned to face him, wearing the tia—diadem she had apparently found earlier. But whatever she had been hoping would happen did not come to pass, it seemed, as she removed the accessory from her temples with a sigh.
"What is it?"
"It is said that Ravenclaw's diadem will enhance the wearer's wisdom. But it doesn't seem to work. Maybe it's broken," Luna looked quite distraught as she looked down at the diadem in her hands.
Or maybe it's just some old worthless trinket, Harry thought to himself a bit meanly.
"Maybe you could try it, Harry?"
He scowled, already wanting nothing more than to fall asleep, even if their current location wasn't very comfortable. Perhaps not noticing his facial expression with his face shrouded by the harsh contrast and deep shadows of his wand-light held behind him, Luna reached over and placed the diadem on his head.
Scowling even harder, Harry reached up for the diadem as he spoke. "It doesn't work, I just look stu—"
But he froze, as there was a twinge of something. A ghostly sensation brushing past his mind, reminding him of someone else as his scar began to heat up. Legilimency? Or a scar vision from Voldemort again? Immediately he fought to remember how he had pushed Voldemort out of his mind at the Ministry, recalling the love and grief and pain that he filled his mind that night.
Those overwhelming emotions that even a dark lord could not fight against.
But nothing happened for several seconds and he relaxed, just the littlest bit.
"Harry?" Luna asked quietly, bringing him back into the present.
He realized his emotions were overflowing. He wasn't crying - his eyes hadn't even begun to moist. But all the same his breath had been caught in his throat from all that he was suddenly feeling again, brought brimming back to the fore of his consciousness. "It's nothing, I'm fine."
"Did it..." she began, reaching for the diadem. But he raised a hand to halt her.
"I felt something. Give me a moment."
Feeling much more awake again, Harry concentrated. He tried to sense what it was that he had felt, but no matter what there didn't seem to be anything actually inside his mind. Not like there had been with Voldemort or even with Snape.
So he tried another tack.
I want to apparate.
Nothi—Destination, Determination, Deliberation. Something flooded his mind. Not memory or knowledge, or even understanding. But rather a sense of something nudging him forward. Something maddeningly familiar, tickling at the back of his brain. Reach out hyperagonally and sense the shadow cast by every object, then step sideways and turn the world.
He had been side-along apparated before. No, more than that, he had apparated as well. It had been accidental magic, but he could clearly remember it now. Being chased by Dudley, back before Hogwarts, what seemed like a lifetime ago now. How he had suddenly appeared on the school's roof.
Could he do it again?
Reaching up, he grabbed the diadem and took it off and offered it back to Luna. It was too small for his head anyway.
"I think..." licking his lips, he looked at Luna. "I think I could try apparating us out of here. But I'm not sure how well it will work."
Luna peered at him attentively, saying nothing. Then, she nodded and accepted the diadem. Threading her arm through it so it rested in the crook of her elbow she reached over and grasped his, like she had during the party when he had been escorting her.
"There aren't many Wrackspurts here. You can do it, Harry."
He blinked as all tension suddenly vanished out of him. He couldn't help himself; he laughed then. "Alright, here I go. Nox."
The wand-light disappeared, plunging them into darkness again. That was fine - seeing things would just distract him. Or would it get in the way of feeling the shadows of... He shook his head to clear those thoughts away. He could feel his breathing and that of Luna beside him. His heart was beating strongly in his chest, pulsating all the way to his legs beneath him.
Closing his eyes, he breathed slowly.
They needed to get out. He didn't know where they were, but as long as they got out it should be alright. He could see it now. Destination—beneath the open skies. So blue and lightly speckled with clouds. He wanted out. Too long had he been stuck in tight places like these and he wanted out! Determination—he wasn't going to stay here, he needed to warn Dumbledore about Malfoy's plans. He gripped his wand more rightly now, focusing on the grain of the wood against his skin. Deliberation—
There was a pop of rushing air, and suddenly both were simply gone from that little nook of darkness in-between nothingnesses.
Been a while since I published anything. Wanted to do a bit of practice since MotM isn't cooperating and I feel a bit burned out. So this is just a casual thing, which will require nearly zero effort from me(at least, in comparison to MotM). So will work on this occasionally now, too.
And sometimes you just stumble on a name so good that you just have to use it.