A/N: Apologies for the wait, I've been rather ill. Haven't been able to think properly for two or three weeks, and it's frustrating to spend an hour on one short paragraph.
Warnings for a few naughty words here or there...
"Luna Lovegood, but just Luna is fine," said the woman, interrupting Harry. "Pleased to meet you," she added, staring at L with a detached gaze and a dreamy smile.
L wondered absently whether or not she was a fairy, since there were delicate wings fluttering in the air behind her. She was wearing a sea-green dress that stopped at her knees, and was carrying sparkling silver slippers rather than wearing them on her feet, which were left bare. Her earrings were in fact small radishes, and she wore a necklace made from what L suspected were butterbeer corks. She also wore a gold chain with an unfamiliar triangular symbol hanging from it. Her long, dark blonde hair was curled at the ends, and she wore a crown made from various flowers that he didn't recognise. What was presumably her wand was tucked behind her left ear, and almost looked as if it was supposed to be part of her crown.
"Hello," L mumbled quietly from around his thumb.
"Glad you could make it Luna! You make a very beautiful fairy, by the way. I thought you were staying in Patagonia until the end of February?" Harry asked with a genuine smile, obviously pleased to see her. L noticed that Harry seemed to be looking between him and Luna an awful lot, with a rather curious expression on his face.
"Thank you Harry, I worked especially hard on the charm for the wings. I'll be going back to the expedition tomorrow, as a matter of fact. This just seemed like a rather good place to be, don't you think so?" she replied dreamily.
"In more ways than one Luna," Harry replied with a cheeky smile, thinking of his meeting with George, the gadgets he'd gotten from Hermione when L and Ron had been playing chess, and a few other things he'd sorted out along the way.
"I'm ever so glad you understand Harry, otherwise I could be here all night explaining. This makes it an awful lot simpler," the dreamy woman stated, before reaching to the back of her neck and taking off her triangle pendant. She smiled at both Harry and L, and simply stated, "I'm sure this will come in handy for you when the time comes," before turning and actually skipping into the crowd, soon disappearing amongst the masses.
"I think I just missed something. Did I miss something?" Harry asked, sounding rather confused as he turned to L. "I'm fairly sure I must have missed something, because that made absolutely no sense to me whatsoever. Did it make sense to you?"
"Perhaps she was hinting that there was a specific reason that she was here tonight, and mistook your comment to be understanding of that fact," L suggested.
"Sounds plausible; carry on, I'm sure there's something else I'm missing," prompted Harry, waving his hand in an impatient circular motion.
"I would also say that she assumed that you would come to your own conclusions based on that necklace she gave you."
"Ah. That would make some sort of sense," Harry stated, staring down at the necklace in his hand with a somewhat annoyed look on his face, "but what if I don't like the conclusions that I've come to after seeing this symbol?" he asked almost petulantly.
"In that case, it would seem that you are in denial."
"Isn't that a river in Egypt?" Harry asked, grinning. All traces of his former expression had vanished.
L sighed in irritation, resigned to the fact that for now, he would be receiving no further information from Harry. It was a shame that the cloak would impede his ability to deliver a decent kick to a certain wizard's shin otherwise he would be sorely tempted.
They had barely stepped into the house when they were stopped yet again, this time by the black haired woman that L had seen in the kitchen earlier.
"Oh there you are Harry! Teddy's been waiting for you since the end of the show so that he could say goodnight."
"Alright, I'll go and get him settled. If it's no trouble, could you sort out some cake or something for Panda please, 'Dromeda?" Harry replied before disappearing up a staircase.
"That won't be a problem Harry. Come along then, 'Panda'; let's find you something to eat, and get you settled somewhere nice and quiet to think for a bit."
And so it was that L once again found himself sitting in the corner of the dining room; this time with a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of granulated sugar, a full teapot, a slice of apple pie with custard, a plate of cookies, and two chocolate muffins. Surprisingly enough, this didn't seem to garner any strange glances. 'Dromeda had simply nodded and floated everything to where he was currently perched, before telling him to call her if he wanted something else, which of course he would never do. After all, he'd seen where the food was kept, and he was more than capable of finding his own cake. L had the vague feeling that he should be panicking at that moment, since he had never felt so foreign; yet the few people that had spoken to him were simply nice. Everyone had been rather normal, except for seeming to know things that they shouldn't. How would 'Dromeda know that he wanted somewhere quiet to think and eat? He hadn't heard Harry say anything of the sort.
Glancing up at the ceiling thoughtfully, L wondered how long Harry would be. He took a hulled strawberry from the bowl in front of him, and carefully rolled it in the bowl of sugar, taking care so as to make sure that the strawberry was filled with the white granules. When he was satisfied, he quickly put it in his mouth. He could only do this a few times otherwise he wouldn't have enough sugar left to put in his tea, so he chewed for as long as possible before swallowing. He much preferred his sugar in cube form, but it had to be said that there were advantages to the granulated version, even if he couldn't build towers with it.
Much to his pleasure, it seemed that L had the dining room to himself, and after shifting himself round slightly so that he could detect the slightest movement from all three entrances to the room, he set about finishing all of the food in from of him, as he reflected on various events that required deeper thought. An image of a fairy in a sea green dress came to mind, and he quickly dismissed it, thinking further back to when this bizarre morning/night had begun, back in Tokyo.
Something just didn't sit right with him. It hadn't been his choice to come here. That led him to much more complicated thoughts regarding things like fate, and destiny. He had always believed that life was what the individual would make of it and that there were always choices, even if they were limited in number. Two related questions fought to resolve themselves at the forefront of his mind. 'Did I have a choice in coming here tonight?' and 'Did I have no choice whatsoever in coming here tonight?'
If he had a choice, then he would have said no. He had already said no, and he really was going to keep saying no; that is, until Watari had entered the room and told them that they needed themselves to leave. What would have happened if he had kept refusing? Would Harry have decided to take him along anyway? Was that when his choice was taken away, the moment their future selves had appeared?
It appeared that he had no choice in coming here tonight. Therefore it could be said that it was fate, in a way. He had never believed in fate. People weren't 'fated' to be good people or bad people, or to walk certain paths, or to die on a certain day. It was the choices that they made that determined how their lives would turn out. But then, how could all of this be explained?
An individual's personality, or character, definitely influences the choices that they make in life. L himself used this against criminals by setting traps for them based on their psychological profile, not to mention how he found them in the first place. So is a person's fate determined when they are a child, and first become aware that they exist? It seemed unlikely, since a child's environment plays a large part in their development, therefore theoretically it could change that child's fate... Not only that; but Harry himself was proof that fate and destiny were in fact real, and that it could be determined even prior to birth. A prophecy had been made about him before he was even born, and it had come true. It was only one example, but it was a rather large one, even if it could be seen as self fulfilling... Plus the centaur saying things about him that were true, and claiming to have read it in the skies, which only reminded him of something else that the centaur had said. He put aside the tangled mess of thoughts that he had just created, and thought back to even earlier in the day.
"...The fate of the Shadow Child is no longer sealed."
When someone's fate is referred to as being 'sealed', it never refers to something good happening. It's always either someone going to jail, or someone being diagnosed with a terminal illness... or someone dying, which seemed the most likely interpretation for someone in his particular situation.
So he was no longer going to die? Fate is a true concept, and his is no longer sealed. Therefore, something that Harry would do, would somehow stop him from dying. He wasn't particularly bothered about the concept of his death. If he lived past the Kira case, he would simply solve another, and continue doing so until the day of his death. If he died... Well, 'L' would continue to solve cases in the eyes of the world through his successors; but as a person, he would simply cease to exist. Wouldn't he? But then... Harry had said that he has a stone that can bring people back from the dead. Perhaps it just created echoes of people that were once living? It certainly seemed more plausible than 'spirits' from 'another realm', or something equally as absurd. Or at least, he thought a little hesitantly, it would have been absurd last week.
Suddenly there were voices, and L stilled. He didn't even dare to chew his food, which was a bit of a shame for him really since it was the first bite of a rather delectable chocolate muffin, and he dearly wished to take another.
"You absolute prat! If it's not bad enough that you invite yourself to our house, you have to insult our guests? Jealous, Malfoy? Looking for a way to boost the family name by mooching off others and insulting people? Or are you just spying on us? Agh! GINNY THAT HURTS!"
"As if, Weasel! Like I'd ever sink so low! In fact, if you hadn't been sticking your nose into other people's business, I might not have felt the need to break it! Who knows, I might have done your ugly face a favour! Get your filthy muggle-loving-"
"You insulted Luna, you disgusting little ferret!"
"She insulted me first! And just what in the name of Merlin is a Blibbering Humdinger anyway? She's round the twist, that one-"
"Shut the hell up, both of you, and wait there until I get back!" snarled Ginny as she dragged two men in by their ears and dumped them in separate chairs, ignoring their protests. There was silence for a moment, and L wondered when they would notice that they weren't alone.
"I'm not sure whether or not you've noticed Weasel, but that sister of yours has become a right bitch since Potter dumped her. I can see why, if that's how-"
However, whatever was going to be said after that was cut off he was suddenly shrieking and clawing at his face.
L fought to keep his posture and his breathing steady since nobody appeared to have noticed him sitting in the corner yet, but his eyes were so wide that they almost hurt. He did however take the opportunity to swallow his bite of muffin.
"You just can't help yourself, can you Malfoy?" Ginny spat as she stalked into the room, pointing her wand at the dishevelled blonde haired man. "You just can't keep yourself from running that mouth of yours, thinking that everyone will just accept it like they did from your scumbag of a father! I've got news for you, Malfoy. Nobody gives a rat's ass what you think!" she thundered, as a wet black flapping thing suddenly escaped from between Malfoy's fingers, spreading it's wings before turning to attack the whimpering man, who was still clawing at his face. "Do you think you might get the message this time Malfoy, or do I need to submit a two-page article in a special edition of the Daily Prophet to make damn sure, you arrogant, inbred, son of a Death Eater? You've got no right insulting others after the atrocities your family has to atone for!"
"Bloody hell Ginny..." Ron muttered, seemingly in awe.
"And you!" She added, turning to Ron and leaving Malfoy screaming, as another wet black thing came out of what L thought was his nose and started attacking him.
"You're just as bad as him Ron! Every time you two get near each other-"
"G-Ginny-" Ron stuttered, as he turned pale. Blood covered the front of his robes, presumably from where his nose had been broken.
"EVERY TIME! You start fighting. Even if there is no reason for it, you both look for a way! You will find a way! I for one am sick of it! I'm sick of patching you up when it's me that finds you, I'm sick of hearing about how much you hate Malfoy, and I wonder, if you both hate each other so much, then WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS?"
"Because I hate him Ginny, he's done nothing but-"
"I'm well aware of what he's done! I'm well aware of what his family has done, or have you forgotten my first year? I however, am mostly able to just ignore the little prat! Try it Ron, it works!"
L still hadn't moved, and by now Malfoy was a sobbing mess on the floor, feebly trying to hit the four bats that were flying around his head, whilst preventing a fifth from escaping. L thought he was going to be sick at the sight, but he didn't dare to move, or to ask where there was a bathroom.
He flicked his eyes around the room until they caught movement by the staircase. Harry was standing there just out of sight, and as L's gaze settled on his face, he noted that Harry was staring back at him in concern. Harry quickly smoothed his features, before wiggling his eye brows and smirking. L watched as Harry held his wand to his throat, and started mouthing something.
"Ron, Ginny! Where have you both disappeared to?"
L almost grinned. Harry had mouthed the words, but with magic he had made it sound like Molly Weasley was shouting from outside. Ron and Ginny both winced at each other before grumbling and making their way outside, leaving Malfoy on the floor. L heard Ginny say, "Put this on your nose, you prat," to Ron as they both left.
"Well what do we have here? A Malfoy suffering from the effects of one of Ginny's infamous Bat Bogey Hexes? Oh dear. You're only on five bats, and you're in this state? Tut tut, you're a lightweight. This is nothing, Malfoy. Wait until it's at two dozen."
"Potter you bas-"
"Ah ah ah; think about what you are saying, Malfoy. Sitting next to you is one of the few people who know the counter to that nasty little hex there; not counting the lovely healers at St Mungo's; but then it's bound to be busy on this night, especially with the rest of them out there needing a healer. In fact, most of the healers are probably at this very party, tipsy if not steaming drunk. You're not very subtle you know, which is rather surprising since it's one of the qualities that are supposed to define Slytherin house."
"Still. Hate. You. Potter," Malfoy managed to choke out.
Harry flicked his wand at Malfoy, who immediately relaxed before starting to pick himself off the ground.
"I'm ever so glad Malfoy, otherwise I'd have to see about finding another rival, and that would be rather time consuming. No, I'd much rather stick with you. After all, there's history there, and it's not a proper rivalry without history after all. Although, this is rather worrying."
"What the hell are you going on about Potter? Get to the point, some of us have got better things to be doing!"
"I'm starting to think I've been dumped. Ditched. Tossed aside like a used Portkey," Harry said with a frown at Malfoy.
"What?" Malfoy hissed incredulously.
"You heard. Here's me, your rival since the first train ride to Hogwarts, all that history going for us, and the next thing I hear, you're ditching me to get into fistfights with other guys? I'm hurt Draco. Don't I mean anything to you anymore?"
"I am going to kill you Potter. Slowly, and painfully," Malfoy gritted out between clenched teeth.
"That's much better Malfoy. Now who have you been insulting this time? Oh and clean your face, it's covered in snot."
Malfoy glared hatefully as he waved his wand over himself before speaking.
"Like I told the Weaslette and the Weasel, she said I was infested! With Blibbering Humdingers! I am a Malfoy. The two words should never even be spoken in the same sentence! It's a direct insult to the house of Malfoy-"
"Sorry, which two words was it in particular? 'Infested' and 'Malfoy'?" Harry asked innocently.
Malfoy simply glared before stumbling out of the room, making sure to shove Harry into the wall as he went. "Burn in hell, Potter."
"Eat shit, Malfoy," Harry retorted pleasantly, with a jaunty wave.
Malfoy turned slightly. "If anything Potter, you did the dumping. The Potter I threw curses at disappeared, and got replaced with you. The Potter I knew would have at least punched me in the face by now."
"Did it not dawn on your tiny little aristocratic mind, that I might simply have found another way of irritating you?"
"Seriously?" Malfoy asked incredulously as he turned in the doorway.
"No, I just can't be bothered with it all. See you later Malfoy," Harry stated in a rather good impression of L's usual bored monotone.
With that, Harry closed the dining room door on Malfoy's incredulous face.
L didn't move.
"Panda, we should probably attempt to leave soon, although there might be a bit of a wait, unless I take you through the Floo," Harry said carefully, blatantly showing that there was more that hadn't been said. Malfoy could be heard sputtering about indignities on the other side of the door.
"There is a fight outside, isn't there." L stated.
"It's just the usual New Year's excitement getting to a few people, along with the Firewhiskey I suppose. If Malfoy hadn't started something, it would have been someone else; although the fact that it's my department out there clearing it up probably didn't put him off any. The Aurors were already stationed to deal with it, and they're not expecting me to get involved, so we're good to go," Harry said as he shrugged. He didn't seem overly concerned in the slightest.
"But... Apparating or using a Portkey means we have to get off the property, which will be at least another fifteen minutes, ten if we're lucky. If we want to go now, we'll have to get in line for the Floo. I don't think you'll like travelling by Floo, Panda. This room will be needed in a moment, when they start bringing in people that need fixing up."
"Would we be able to leave from an upstairs window? Then you would be able to hide us while we fly to the edge of the property," L asked without hesitation.
Harry grinned. "You're catching on! Come on then, before the walking wounded arrive! Try to be quiet though, because there's a bunch of kids sleeping up there. They won't hear a thing from outside, since there are silencing charms up, but they'll hear us if we're not careful."
L then remembered the condition of the staircase, and held back a sigh, beginning to climb. He doubted that it would choose this exact moment to fall down after all. The probability was actually less than one percent. He glanced out of a first floor window as he passed it, and had to look again to make sure that he'd seen correctly. Outside many people were lying still on the ground, and a group of red robed wizards were firing red spells at people who were firing a multitude of colours at others. One man was stumbling aimlessly, naked except for bright pink fluffy underwear, and his arms had been turned into long slimy tentacles. His face couldn't be seen under the mass of seaweed on his head.
"They're just stunned, or knocked out. The ones in red robes firing the red spells are Aurors. It's honestly nothing to worry about, since most of them will be woken up and just continue on as if nothing happened. Even that man with the tentacles, and his hair turned to seaweed, will only take five minutes to fix," Harry whispered, also stopping to look out of the window.
"Very odd..." L murmured absently, staring at an angry middle-aged woman who was chasing a man around firing what looked like live piranhas in his general direction. One of the Aurors was chasing after the woman, seemingly unable to decide between vanishing the multitude of piranhas, and stopping the woman that was firing them. Apparently he settled on getting rid of the piranhas, only shooting the occasional red light at the woman, who showed no signs of stopping the barrage any time soon. Idiot.
"Idiot... If he was wearing the proper kit, a piranha could bite all it wants and he'd never feel it; although I guess I'll let him off since the stunned people wouldn't appreciate waking up with a piranha attached... I still bet he lost his boots again though... Come on Panda, we should go further up. I'd have us use the window that leads out to the roof, but that's in the attic. There's a ghoul in there, which is pretty much what we call a miserable ghost. I'm not sure you'll want to see him, and he doesn't like new people either so we'll use the one at the top of the stairs," Harry said, still whispering quietly.
"This is ridiculous..." L muttered.
"I know, but it could be a whole lot worse. What's out there is a bunch of intoxicated magical folk looking for any excuse to let off some steam; a bit like pirates at a bar, I suppose," Harry whispered over his shoulder. "Then you've got the folk who learned a nifty bit of magic, and who are just looking for a target to practise it on. There are spells in existence that flay people alive, boil their blood, or turn them inside out. So like I said, this is nothing. It used to be a lot worse to be honest, especially after what the Ministry had been doing back then."
"Your Ministry has a lot to answer for," L stated darkly. Harry looked at him with curiosity having never heard that tone used, before adopting an apologetic expression and pointing at the window they'd just arrived at.
It wasn't even a proper square. That was the first thing that L could say about it. The next thing would be that it was rather small.
"I'll go first, and then I'll pull you out. Cheer up Panda; we'll have a bird's eye view!"
L did not cheer up. In fact, he very much desired to kick someone. Namely Harry. This whole thing was probably his fault, anyway. He probably would have kicked Harry if it was not for the tiny fact that it was Harry who had to float them away, and the slightly larger fact of it being L who had suggested this plan of escape in the first place. L rolled his shoulders and prepared to climb out of the window after Harry, who had simply floated out.
"Don't be silly! Just grab my hand and I'll float you out too!" Harry said quietly after poking his head back inside for a moment.
L simply nodded and reluctantly held out his hand, acknowledging that floating out would be easier than climbing out. Harry rolled his eyes and grabbed L's hand tightly, pulling him up and out of the window. Suddenly the noises from outside flooded his mind as his head passed through the silencing spell that Harry had mentioned.
"Up ye get, ye lout! Brawl's over! Back t'yer drinkin!"
"Miss? Miss, Hello! I'm Auror Tomkins. Do you need any curses removed? Miss?"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU STUNNED ME?"
"I'll have to ask you to calm down, sir! You were Stunned in accordance with section three of the Brawls and Public Displays of Aggression Act, which you brought upon yourself, Mr Wiggins! I personally witnessed you casting a Chronophobia Curse on Mr Dewsbury! Now, I'll have no further arguments from you, or you'll find yourself paying a ten Galleon fine!"
Two wizards in light blue robes were casting spells to repair the ground as the red robed wizards were walking around waking people up; either sending them staggering to the drinks tent, or escorting them to the house to be 'fixed'. L stared in fascination as the woman that had just been woken up suddenly belched out a stream of coloured bubbles that played a tune as they popped, blushing fiercely at the young Auror in front of her as she covered her mouth with one hand and fanned her face with the other.
"Oh, don't worry Miss! I know just the thing! Don't try and talk, now."
The young Auror waved his wand over the woman.
"There, now try and say something!"
"Thank you!" The woman said, obviously embarrassed.
"No worries, Miss! Just save me a dance later!"
The woman giggled and nodded, staring after the young Auror as he walked away and knelt next to a man that was lying face down on the ground, gently turning him over before firing a blue spell.
"Sir? Sir, can you hear me? I'm Auror Tomkins..."
"Huh? Ahhh! No, you've got to stop it!"
"Sir, what seems to be the problem?"
"No, you don't understand! It's everywhere, and it will never stop! Time will kill us all! It will be the end of the world! I get what they mean now when they say it's all just a matter of time! It's so true!"
The young Auror apologised before stunning the man once again (L having quickly come to the conclusion that the man was more than likely the aforementioned Mr Dewsbury), and floating him towards the house.
L barely noticed that he was technically flying, because his eyes were constantly flitting from place to place trying to take everything in at once. It was rather impossible. From one glance to the next, everything simply changed. Chairs were being repaired, the holes in the ground were being repaired, bits of table flew from all corners of the yard to reform themselves, fallen bottles and tankards were being collected, and all faster than anything he had seen before. Already the music had restarted, and people were beginning to dance again as if nothing had happened. From up in the air, L could see that the floating self-playing accordion wasn't alone, and was in fact joined by three fiddles, a cello, two drums, and a flute. There were only a dozen or so people still unconscious by the time they'd floated to the edge of the party.
"See, it's almost like nothing happened. Most of the older guests will have taken this as an excuse to leave though, hence the line for the Floo. Who-turned-who-into-what will be hot gossip for a few weeks, and I'm sure that tentacle man will be famous for a while. Wait!"
Harry suddenly stopped in mid-air, and L followed his line of sight to a cheerful looking man in brown and gold robes, with matching pointy hat. The gold almost looked as if it were a liquid.
"I can't go without talking to Arthur; I haven't seen him all night! I wonder what he's been up to."
L bit back a protest, since he knew that it would do no good, and soon they had landed in front of Arthur Weasley, who didn't seem to notice them at first. Suddenly his eyes widened, and he pointed his wand straight at L's heart before noticing Harry.
"Oh! Harry... Dear Merlin... Don't startle me like that! I thought you were a Death Eater!" Arthur said, staring at L. "My sincere apologies, but you never know. It's always best to be prepared..."
"Sorry Arthur, but we were making an escape. I saw you though, and it wouldn't be right not to wish you a Happy New Year. So, Happy New Year Arthur!"
"And a Happy New Year to you Harry! And of course Happy New Year to you too... erm..."
"Panda," said Harry, grinning.
"Ah, of course! Masquerading are we? A rather ingenious idea, I must say! Well Happy New Year, Panda! It's an honour to meet with you. Terribly bold thing you did there, on the Telly Fission, but I should be thanking you for bringing the matter to our attention!"
L silently wondered if he should start regretting that broadcast. Plus he was getting thoroughly sick of being called Panda.
"It was no problem," L mumbled quietly, digging in his pocket for a lollipop, or even a jellybean. Anything with sugar would suffice.
"Arthur?" Molly Weasley called. "Harry! You two were just about to sneak off, weren't you?" she added accusingly as she scowled at Harry.
Arthur pointed at himself and started sputtering.
"Oh, not you Arthur, I'm talking about these two!" Molly said, wagging her finger between Harry and L.
L actually cringed, and was disgusted at himself for doing so.
"Well Panda isn't really used to all this yet so I thought it would be better if we sort of escaped while the going was good," Harry rushed out in one breath.
"What were you thinking? What if I came looking for you and you'd up and vanished without telling anyone that you'd gone? You'd have us turning the place upside down, searching for both of you, worrying the whole time that someone had got a hold of you!" Molly scolded, her hands firmly planted on her hips.
Harry's eyes had widened throughout Molly's lecture, and he opened his mouth to speak, but snapped it closed as he saw that she wasn't done yet. L noticed Arthur grimacing and looking as if he was trying to decide whether or not to intervene, if the half-hearted gesturing of his hand was any indication.
"You have no idea how much we worry about you Harry, we all do! You've got to tell us these things, or you'll drive us mad with it! Don't mind me Panda dear, but he needs a good telling," she added pleasantly, before patting L on the head.
"Sorry Molly," Harry said miserably, staring at the ground and looking rather guilty.
"I know you don't mean it, Harry dear, but with all that's gone on, how can we not worry a bit? It's bad enough not knowing where you are most of the time, without you disappearing from our own back yard!" Molly said in a much gentler tone. Arthur nodded a bit at this.
"I know, I should have said something. I don't normally sneak off though! I just wanted to make sure Panda didn't get caught up in all this fuss! Oh, and I came back to talk to Arthur, and I told him we were going... but you've got a point. I'll make sure not to leave without telling someone in future."
"That's all I ask Harry dear. Now then! I've packed up a box of food for you both. It's on the top shelf in the kitchen, and I've already shrunk it for you."
Harry grinned and held up his hand, a box soon hitting his palm with a loud smack. Harry winced and transferred the box to his other hand, shaking his sore hand out and hissing through his teeth.
"I'm fine!" Harry exclaimed at the Weasley's expressions, "It was just a bit strong, that's all!"
"That reminds me Harry dear, Poppy was just telling me that you're to see her by the tenth, otherwise she'll send you a Howler every hour," Molly said as she reached out to adjust Harry's cloak.
"She's here?" Harry blurted, and L watched in amusement as he began scanning the edges of the crowd.
"Yes dear, would you like me to call her over for you? You are looking rather peaky," Molly fussed.
"NO! Uhm, I mean, no thanks. We've got to get going, you see, because of the... Uh... Time zones! Thanks for the food, and Happy New Year!" Harry said quickly, before grabbing L's arm and starting to drag him towards the gate.
"Don't forget to write, Harry dear!"
"I can walk," L said, trying to tug his arm free.
"Not fast enough. Oh, and some sneaky low-level Ministry idiot tried to put a tracking charm on me! Idiot."
"Did you catch the person?"
"No point. They aren't the one giving the instructions. The good thing is now that I've identified the minion, I can hopefully use them to find out who is trying to track me and why. Fortunately for me, I have a whole army of tricks up my sleeve. For my first trick, I picked the spell off and promptly stuck it in their hair."
"That is the wisest option, and one of the cleverest places to put it. Are there any tracking spells on me?"
"Just the one," Harry stated bluntly, stepping away from L slightly and letting go of his arm, with a pointed look at the older man's feet. L's kicks were bad enough barefoot, without adding in the dragon-hide boots.
"Explain," L stated forcefully.
"It was me, and it's a special one. You'll like it! Well, you might not, but there's nothing you can do about it. Even if there was, I'm sure you wouldn't want to remove it once you find out everything that it does."
"Explain in detail."
"Yes, yes. I put a tracker on you earlier today, before we left for Hogwarts actually. I'd be a rather useless guardian if I didn't know where you were, after all, and it's a big castle! The beauty of this tracker though, is that it doesn't allow any other trackers to be placed on top of it. It's an old spell, actually. I find it rather fascinating how its use has changed so drastically over the years. It was invented for the purpose of keeping tabs on pureblood children from wealthy families, and to deter kidnappers from holding them to ransom. Then it started being used to 'tag' muggles for various terrible reasons that I won't be going into, but let's just say it was a two sided thing. With its purpose twisted, purebloods decided that their precious children would not be tagged like 'common muggle criminals' and it became unfashionable," Harry said, idly kicking some longer pieces of grass as he walked. He kept a wary eye on L's feet, just in case one of them came flying his way, and decided that calming L down by giving the man information was the wisest choice, however pointless the information was; but he saw no harm in throwing in a few 'educational' sentences every now and again to give him a rough idea of how things worked.
"It used to be a tradition that it would be removed by the parents when the child completed their education, but after magical folk hid themselves, all that got replaced with the 'Trace' for underage witches and wizards, which is a load of rot if you ask me. It basically lets the purebloods teach their kids magic since it's assumed that the magic is being done by their parents, and that the parents themselves are enforcing the ban. Meanwhile, muggleborn children have no realistic way to protect themselves outside Hogwarts if they have to."
"Surely then there would be a case of a magical child using that magic against the muggle children without penalty?" L asked curiously, momentarily intrigued.
"Hah! There already has been, and he grew up to be a Dark Lord! The Trace only applies to those attending Hogwarts; any younger and it's passed off as accidental magic, so the boy managed to traumatise half his orphanage before he even turned 11. Small things don't get recorded though, just large bursts. However, there was also a case of a six-year old girl with a magical family who was simply playing with her magic when she was spotted by a group of older muggle boys. They tortured her so badly that she became afraid of her magic, to the point where it would build up and be unleashed uncontrolled at times of great stress. It ended up killing her mother. I'm trying to change how it all works with the Ministry, but even my money, power, and influence can only go so far. I'm trying to figure out how to introduce the concept of magical social workers, of a sort. Have an actual witch or wizard monitoring the kids from the first signs onwards instead of some crystal ball."
"How can you track me with it?" L asked next; although he seemed to have remembered that he didn't like Harry very much at that moment for tracking him, and Harry definitely felt like he was being interrogated. Unfortunately it seemed that the man was not to be so easily distracted this time.
"It doesn't tell me in words, if that's what you're thinking. If you were standing in a field ten miles away, I wouldn't really know what field you were in – unless I'd been there myself – but if I was to think of you, then I'd instinctively know where to apparate to. It works with a map too. If I looked at a map of the world, I'd know what country you were in. Then I'd just zoom in, and I'd be able to pinpoint what building you were in. If I've been to the place before, then I would get a mental impression of where you are. Detailed enough?"
"Sufficient, for now," L stated shortly, still rather cross. He would have to make sure that Harry removed it before leaving Japan, but as Harry pointed out, there wasn't much he could do about it at the moment. L made a mental note to look into his rights regarding the magical world however, since he wanted to know exactly what kind of society he was dealing with, and exactly how to out-manoeuvre them if needs be. Or in this instance, to have spells removed from his person that weren't placed there by his choice. His choices had been irritatingly limited lately, and it didn't sit well with him at all.
L suddenly decided that his choices had been taken away as soon as he laid eyes on a wizard named Harry Potter. His mind flitted through every encounter, every conversation, every action and reaction.
"Right, we're outside the wards now, but since we Apparated straight to the place, we must have travelled from nearby," Harry said, hoping that L understood, and that he wouldn't blurt out anything about time travel.
L simply nodded absently. He was planning to test something. If he could distract Harry for long enough...
Harry stepped off the dirt road, and walked towards a group of three trees surrounded by tall bushes, pulling the hood of his cloak up as he went. L sighed, before following.
"We should arrive back here roughly ten minutes before they leave," Harry said as L caught up to him, referring to their past selves. L nodded. Harry motioned to get down.
They both crouched down behind the bushes, both sitting like L, although L looked more comfortable. Harry pulled out the time turner from underneath his robes, and passed the chain to L so that he could place it around his neck, ensuring that they were both wearing it, otherwise Harry wouldn't have been able to move his hand past the shadows.
"Yes," L replied quietly, yet actually speaking the truth. Yes, it was disorienting, but he much preferred time travel over Apparition, and it was already established that he preferred Apparition over Portkeys. He was actually looking forward to seeing everything move backwards once again. It was a rather unique experience; it was almost as if for those few moments, he truly wasn't a part of this world.
Soon everything was indeed moving backwards, although it was rather difficult to tell with it being dark. The sky did lighten ever so slightly though, and the stars appeared to shift. L watched the 'fireworks' as if watching a video that was rewinding, starting with Harry's massive ball of white fire shrinking and disappearing amongst the trees, and quickly ending with tongues of fire also disappearing. It was another few seconds before Harry said anything.
"You should be able to remove the chain now."
L did so, slowly. He gathered the extra chain in his hand, and stared in fascination as it quickly shortened.
"Panda. Be quick though, we need to get going."
"What exactly am I supposed to do with the potion in my pocket?"
Harry nodded, as if expecting that question. They were still crouched behind the bush.
"I'll tell you what others have told me, since I'm usually not quite all there when this sort of thing happens. I'm told that wherever I am becomes rather saturated with magic within a few minutes, and that my eyes glow. That's actually a really good sign, since it means that the excess is escaping. Not so good for anything magical or muggle that happens to be near me, apparently. Poppy says I'm a Healer's worst nightmare, since I make all their diagnostic spells go haywire. So I'll probably manage to land us both on our feet, but when that magic comes back, don't be shocked if I have a funny turn. Wait until I collapse, and then make me swallow that blue potion, since by then you should be alright. I should wake up within a few minutes, and be just about conscious enough for a little while to move elsewhere. We'll be landing on the roof, since I'm less likely to set anything off I hope, although I haven't seen it before so don't even twitch until your feet hit the ground."
"What is to be done if something goes wrong?"
"There's a shiny red button on my watch. If you quickly press that three times, the face changes to a big red button with 'PANIC!' written on it in English. You push that, and it sends a signal to those who are better prepared to safely disarm walking bombs. If that unlikely event ever happens, then you should leave me wherever I am as quickly as possible, and go back to your life. Either myself or George would then contact you. Seriously, don't hang around, or the Unspeakables will take you too."
"Hm. What was it that triggered the explosion?"
"They threatened to do something. Panda, we have to go now, before someone comes," Harry said anxiously, as he glanced around. He was starting to feel uneasy.
"In a moment," L stated. "What did they threaten to do?"
Harry fidgeted. He knew that there was something he should be remembering, but disjointed memories of fear and pain were clouding his mind.
"Panda we really have to go now-"
"I am not moving from this spot until you tell me."
Harry paled. "We don't have the time for this! Just come on, I've got a really bad feeling," Harry said, standing up and reaching for L's sleeve, wincing as his ankle clicked.
"Tell me!" L demanded, also standing so that Harry wouldn't be standing over him, and jerking his arm out of reach.
"No! Stop messing about, Ryuuzaki, and let me just get us out of here! I shouldn't be thinking of it, not this close!" Harry closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, trying to calm himself and to banish the memories. He had no idea what would happen if his last coherent thought was of that. Still with his eyes closed, he spoke carefully.
"You are treading on thin ice, 'Ryuuzaki'! My thoughts need to be calm. You are not helping, and we have less than a minute!" Truthfully, he wondered if they would have to go back in time a little further, just in case.
Harry opened his eyes, and hoped that L could see that his questions would only lead to bad things happening.
L nodded carefully, and Harry's eyes widened in realisation as he stared in mild horror at something behind L.
"Sorry!" Harry exclaimed, before he lunged forward and practically lifted L from the ground as he spun them round. L tried to suck in a breath, stop himself from kicking Harry, and shut his eyes, all at the same time; however a bright, sizzling, ugly yellow light caught his attention just before they left. It had been heading straight for L's head, and was now inches from Harry's. Everything around them vanished into a maelstrom of different colours, and if it wasn't for the fact that he felt like he was being dragged through a copper pipe, he would have thought he had entered a dreamscape. Suddenly the sensation stopped, and L stumbled, falling to the ground, one of his knees taking the full impact. Despite the dizziness, the headache, the tingling, and his food threatening to reappear, L turned to see how Harry was doing as soon as his eyes once again perceived reality.
He looked almost lifeless. His eyes were half lidded, his cheeks appeared to have sunken into his face slightly, giving him a rather skeletal appearance, and the purple shadows under his eyes had deepened until they were eerily similar to his own. L remembered what George had said about suspicious characters, and realised that his actions had only lead to them being fired at. If he had listened to Harry, that wouldn't have happened. Although, since George had mentioned it, that had already guaranteed that it would happen.
Harry was right. He would drive himself to distraction with these circles of thought. A much better thing to focus on would be the fact that when Harry had turned them to Disapparate, he had almost put himself in the path of the Concussion Hex. This was unacceptable. Harry needed to be physically healthy, in one piece, and fully conscious to apparate them both to Japan as far as he could tell. Plus L recognised that Harry's magic could fix L, but that L could not fix Harry's magic. Therefore if L had a concussion, it would have less overall consequences than Harry having a concussion. L couldn't even access Harry's medical supplies.
L stared avidly as Harry started trembling, and his eyes flew wide open as they glowed a sickly poisonous green, rather than the usual emerald, the yellowish hue of the 'glow' altering their colour.
No answer. Harry didn't even look in his direction. The trembling increased to the point where the younger man swayed on his feet, and his breathing became laboured, as if it was something he was forcing himself to do. Tears were streaming down his cheeks, and L was tempted to reach out his hand and catch a droplet that fell from Harry's jaw, since there was something that didn't seem quite right about the fluid.
"I don't like this," L said quietly, "When will Ryuuki-kun fall?" he almost whispered. L put his hand in his pocket and grasped the vial of shimmering blue potion, bringing it out to look at in the morning light as he waited for Harry's body to fall. He stepped back, and crouched.
It felt a lot longer than it actually was, but a few seconds later, Harry simply crumpled to the ground, hitting his head on the concrete roof of the building. L knew that there would be a lump by the time they got back to the room. He quickly shuffled forwards, still in his crouch, and stared at Harry's face. He looked as thin as a rail, as if he hadn't been eating properly. In fact, L remembered there not being much food at his flat, if any. There was the house-elf, Kreacher, so L supposed that Kreacher would usually prepare his meals. He hadn't looked like this earlier, however.
Irrelevant. Neutralise the threat, he reminded himself.
L removed the cork, being careful not to touch any part of it that could have come into contact with the potion, and placed it upside down on the ground. Slowly, he reached out his free hand to open Harry's mouth, but pulled away quickly as Harry drew a sharp breath before his fingers even touched skin.
Get a hold of yourself.
L blinked twice, and shifted himself forwards purposefully, attempting to ignore the buzzing sensation he could feel throughout his body. Quickly, he opened Harry's mouth with one hand, and dumped the potion in with the other.
Harry coughed slightly, but he didn't spit the potion out.
L carefully backed away to where he had left the cork sitting, and jammed the empty vial onto it upside-down, thereby sealing it again. He was just about to place it in his pocket when he noticed some residual potion on the rim. L decided to find a place to hide it until Harry could retrieve it, and found a conveniently sized gap to place it in. By the time L returned to Harry, the younger man's eyes were closed, and had stopped leaking. He simply crouched down ten feet away and waited, eyes locked on Harry.
Three minutes and forty-two seconds later, Harry stirred slightly. Eight seconds after that, his eyelids fluttered. Four seconds later, he made a noise of discomfort.
L was rather disappointed when two seconds later, the little pattern refused to continue. It was a full twenty-three seconds later when Harry suddenly rolled onto his side and raised a hand to his head.
"Can you hear me this time?" L asked curiously, not having moved from his crouch.
Harry's eyes opened, but he seemed to be having trouble focussing on his surroundings, and he quickly squeezed them shut again. They were still brighter than normal, but they didn't look nearly as sickly as they had previously.
"Not a bed..." He mumbled as he attempted to get up. He failed, and hit his forehead on the ground. "Ugh... Not good..."
"Harry? Can you hear me this time?" L asked loudly.
"L? What're you doing'n 'ell?" Harry slurred as he dragged himself up, leaning on his knees and forearms. Suddenly he giggled stupidly, before saying, "Rhymes!"
"We are not currently in hell," L stated, ignoring Harry's giggling. "We are on the roof of the hotel, as planned."
"Oh, that's not s'bad, then," Harry slurred, before once again trying to stand. L sighed before he rose from his crouch and approached Harry to lend assistance, since it was obvious that he wouldn't manage on his own. L pinched the wizard's sleeve between forefinger and thumb, and dropped the arm across his shoulders.
"S'alright, gimme a minute," Harry protested, but L simply began dragging him towards the door to the roof. After a few stumbles and pained gasps, they reached the door, which happened to be locked from the inside. He cursed quietly in four different languages before turning to Harry.
"Listen to me; you need to unlock the door. It's locked from the inside."
The wizard nodded, and brought out his wand. He shakily tapped the door with it, and just as L thought something was drastically wrong, the door clicked open. He felt Harry expel a shaky breath, and they both entered the hotel, L pushing the door closed behind them.
With a wall supporting one side, and L supporting the other, they quickly made their way down to L's suite. L brought out his key and opened the outer door, encountering a shocked Watari on the other side.
"What on – Ryuuzaki?"
"Yes Watari, it is I. I know that this must be rather confusing, but you must go and tell them to leave. You may tell them who sent you, and do tell them to hurry."
"Right away, Ryuuzaki..." Watari murmured, before visibly giving himself a shake and entering the main room to fulfil his task.
Harry was surprisingly quiet, and was mostly leaning against the wall. L waited until he heard the sound of their previous selves departing before dragging a still silent Harry through the main room, and into the bedroom.
Harry shrugged L's arm away and stumbled over to the bed, simply lying down on top of the sheets and closing his eyes without a word.
L hovered at the doorway for a few minutes. He didn't know what he had been expecting, but it wasn't this. He heard footsteps.
"Ryuuzaki? What is the meaning of this? What has happened? Are you injured?"
"I will attempt to explain the matter, Watari," L began softly, after a short period of silence. "Ryuuki has conflicting magics that were forced into a confrontation of sorts, due to the method used to transport both of us to and from our destination."
"Is there any way we can help him?" Watari asked, staring at Harry in concern.
"Not concerning his magic, no. There is a potion in his system that should be dealing with that. He did hit his head when he collapsed, though."
Watari gave L one of his 'looks' before stepping towards Harry, and beginning to check his head. Harry lay completely still and made no noise.
"Yes, he has a rather large contusion on the side of his head, near the back. He'll have quite the lump and a nasty headache when he wakes. I'll fetch an icepack."
L said nothing, and didn't take his eyes from Harry's face.
Watari soon returned with an icepack, and placed it against Harry's head.
"Well," Watari said, "That certainly explains the circumstances surrounding your unexpected arrival. How did the rest of your journey unfold?"
"It..." Here L paused, unsure of where to start, what to say, and how to say it.
"Here; hold this, and I will fetch an extra chair. Would you like anything else?"
L simply shook his head and took the icepack, placing it on the pillow next to Harry before rolling him onto his back. This caused his head to fall against the icepack, negating the need for a person to hold it there. Instead of leaving the room, L crouched in the only available chair.
Watari soon returned with an extra chair and placed it next to L's. Seeing that there was no need to resume holding the icepack, he simply sat down and looked at L. However, L said nothing and continued to stare in Harry's direction.
Around fifteen minutes later, L unexpectedly jumped off his chair and approached the bed.
"Ryuuzaki, what are you-"
Watari closed his mouth and rubbed his forehead, obviously unhappy with the situation, but trusting that L knew what he was doing. He watched as L bent over the bed, staring intently at Harry's face. One pale finger lifted an eyelid, and Watari could have sworn that the young wizard's eyes were glowing slightly.
"He is improving, Watari. I will require a laptop – actually no, best not, since his magic is still potentially unstable... I want two extra large slices of strawberry sponge cake, a slice of cheesecake, a bowl of jelly beans, a box of Hello Panda cookies, a box of strawberry Pocky, a pot of tea, and twice the usual amount of sugar cubes. I then want you to check the system thoroughly for any errors or faults within the last half hour especially, and then check the entire hotel for the same period of time. I want to know exactly how he can influence or disrupt our technology and why, if at all possible at this point in time. Also, bring me a small wireless camera, from batch 26-C."
"Right away, Ryuuzaki," Watari stated, looking between the younger two in confusion, before turning to leave the room. He paused at the doorway.
"At least take that cloak off before I return, it is rather disconcerting."
"Every moment that you stand there, is a moment where I find myself not eating cake. Do be quick, Watari."
Watari shook his head in despair, and left the room, pulling the door closed behind him.
L settled into his chair, and continued to stare at his latest puzzle, not including Kira of course. He was fairly certain that he knew the identity of the murderer, his mental processes, ambitions, and reason for doing what he did. It wouldn't be long before the murderer was in prison, rotting away like the rest of them that thought they had the right to take the lives of others with no consequence to themselves.
Harry however, was an enigma; a walking contradiction. As soon as L thought he had the wizard figured out, Harry would do, or say something that would suggest that he had been wrong in his deductions. Sometimes he got the distinct feeling that he was being patronised, or made fun of in some way, or talked down to. It offended L to think that Harry would treat him as an ignorant child simply because he wasn't experienced in magical matters.
A small, less paranoid section of his mind whispered that Harry was just doing what he thought was best, and trying to give as much information as possible without confusing him. The larger part of his mind was still incensed at being tracked now by not one, but two separate organisations. As genial as Harry had been, L was certain that if it came down to it, Harry would sell him out in a second if it would benefit his world. The man had voluntarily walked to his death for his world, so protecting the identity of one 'muggle' would be unimportant. L was certain that Harry had been telling the truth about being his and Watari's magical 'guardian', but really; who in their right mind would willingly become L's magical guardian? Especially after meeting him? Nobody had ever taken any interest in L's wellbeing other than Watari, and even then Watari was simply interested in L's efficiency as a detective. L was a successful investment; that was all there was to it.
It could have been an impulsive decision on Harry's part. That would make some form of sense. Also, the short period of confinement may have rattled him to the point of grasping at any solution that involved not being confined. That would perhaps explain things, but he doubted it.
What was baffling L most of all, was that his percentages just didn't appear to apply to Harry. It was irritating, and yet intriguing. He'd never been more wrong in his entire life.
No matter what it was, the most likely outcome (according to his calculations) was never what actually occurred. Usually something happened that L hadn't even factored into the equation. The world ran like clockwork, and yet Harry was an anomaly.
He had an amusing thought, that perhaps instead of the world shaping Harry, Harry shaped the world. Perhaps that was why he was so familiar with the stargazing Centaurs.
L suddenly sucked in a breath, and moved back towards the door, never taking his eyes off Harry. He opened the door, and sure enough, Watari was loading a cart.
"Watari, you should contact our associate. There is a rather large possibility that our biomonitors have malfunctioned due to coming into contact with magic, especially mine. It wouldn't be advisable for them to panic."
Watari nodded quickly, and continued loading the cart without pause. "Have a seat, Ryuuzaki. I'll be there momentarily."
L nodded and returned to the chair next to Harry's bed, hoping to sort out his tumultuous thoughts before the wizard regained consciousness.
A/N: Chronophobia is the fear of time. Yeah, who knew that reading/writing fanfics could be educational?
NOTE: The next one probably won't be out for a while, because we're moving house, going on holiday, Mum's coming, and I'm sure things will crop up in between... Also, concerning reviews... from now on, I'll only answer if there are things that need answering, since it took me the best part of a day to get through half... unless you happen to review when I'm having a mildly good day, then I'll probably reply. That doesn't mean there's any less appreciation on my part, not at all. It just means I'll spend more time figuring out the next part of the story rather than figuring out a polite way to say 'Thank You' to you lovely people without repeating my words. Honestly, after over 300 reviews, I'm running out of ideas.
Oh and I have a Pottermore login! Waiting for the all clear...
Let me know your thoughts on this chapter!