Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter and / or any of the characters written by JK Rowling. And yes, I don't own any of the great classical pieces that might be mentioned in this chapter.
A/N: Thanks to frustratedstudent for the Beta and sorry for the delay. Just got my new job and doing my best to pull through with the story. It's not a chore, don't worry. It's a journey that's only half way done. I hope to see all of you through the very end.
"Words" – speech
"Words" – thought speech
'Words' - thoughts
Chapter 8: My Intended
Luna sat on top of the Astronomy tower, feeling her body shiver from the hunger she's feeling at the moment. The blood replenishers were out of stock at the moment since Snape couldn't finish it tonight because of the meeting with Voldemort and the loss of Slytherin from Gryffindor was caused by a well aimed bludger from Fred to Urquhart and two Wronski feints that caught Draco solidly. Slytherin was a bleeding mess after that game. The supply of potions she needed for food was used to heal those two.
Since she was feeling the hunger, she asked for Dumbledore's permission to hunt in the forbidden forest with the condition that she would keep to the forest and not to the castle, Hogsmeade or Hagrid's cabin. Luna acceded to the Headmaster's request and she started to pick up a scent. It was a deer, two miles away. With a deep breath, she let her need to feed take control, running on the walls of the Astronomy tower, running face first into the ground. 5 feet from the ground, she kicked off and took a front flip, not losing any momentum.
A few moments later, she was on the large young buck in the forest and slammed into it, biting hard on its neck while holding it down. The rush of blood she savored, encompassing her entire being with warmth and euphoria. As the buck died, she let go, wiping her mouth with hand, still feeling the hunger. Her eyes were blood red and her pale skin slowly becoming more alive.
Unknown to the vampire, a third year hufflepuff girl was out and about on a dare to get something from the forbidden forest. It was Eleanor Branstone's turn after Laura Madley brought in a vial from the potions dungeons. Her brunette locks whipping back and forth in her rush to get something. She saw a fallen branch at the edge and picked it up. In her rush to get back, she fell to the ground, scratching her left arm. A few drops of her blood trickled to the ground. Eleanor picked herself up and ran back into the castle, covering her wound with her hand.
Luna was about to pounce on another buck when she got the scent of human blood, Eleanor's. Her senses went into overdrive and she rushed towards the running girl with preternatural speed. As she lunged stealthily at the hufflepuff, her last thoughts were 'A feast for a starving man.'
All of a sudden, she found herself crashing 50 yards away from Eleanor who got inside the castle without noticing Luna.
In front of her, in the middle of the grounds was Harry Potter, shrinking the firebolt and hiding the cloak into a pouch Hermione gave him a day before. "I promised Albus to keep the students safe from your bloodlust, Luna." Harry said with a sharp coldness in his tone. Excelsior glowed a soft but pure white light. "Stand down or I will have to put you down, Luna." He had the sword on his left hand and his wand at his right.
Luna licked the drop of blood that was still on her left cheek and narrowed her eyes at Harry. She took out the Nox Eternal and flicked it, pointing the rapier's tip at Harry's direction. She retorted "You're welcome to try, Potter." Her wand was on her left hand and with her pitching dark laugh, the fight began.
Luna flung transfigured stone disks with her wand, using the excess magics of Hogwarts for those spells, while Harry dodged effortlessly, firing piercing curses at Luna. A moment later the end of Luna's left arm sleeve got caught in a slashing curse Harry switched up on the last minute. Luna ignored the gushing blood because of her healing ability while remembering how Moody fought her. Mixing up the spell repertoire with basic low draining spells while getting the enemy into a pattern then switch it up suddenly to gain the advantage.
'Not on my watch, Potter. You lost me my feast.' She thought, digging her left foot into the ground and kicking it up, sending chunks of soil towards Harry. Getting creative, she flicked her wand and turned it into heated lead.
Harry cursed internally and jumped back. "Stop fighting like Mad Eye. Fight like you!" Charlus shouted, as Harry changed tactics and sent ice lances towards Luna for distracting her and a vertexis to get the lead away from him. Harry rushed in forward while Luna was distracted in containing the attack towards her. He slashed Luna and got her by her stomach area, but lucky for Luna, it missed her stomach.
Luna growled and grabbed Harry's left hand and flung him away closer to the forbidden forest. She fired fireballs at Harry's direction, as she used Nox Eternal to send a black wave of magic towards Harry. Her teeth were showing from her lips, as she felt more alive than she ever did. 'Time to finish this.' She thought, running towards Harry. Her sword had a bit of her blood from Harry's slash and it became lighter and stronger in Luna's hands.
It became a duel with swords. Harry's sword was glaring white while Luna's sword was glowing dark red as they clashed. The wands were hidden away and Harry more injured than he let on. His ribs were already hurting from slamming into a tree after Luna tossed him away beside his wrist that was throbbing as well. Plus, he was tiring already after the quidditch match and the afterparty they had. 'It was lucky for that girl that I looked at the Marauder's map before I went to sleep tonight. But if I'm not careful, it's going to be my life instead.' He thought, growling as he swung at Luna again, which the vampire deftly blocked with a maniacal smirk on her lips. 'And she's enjoying it. Damn!'
Luna whistled a tune, as she started to systematically break down Harry. A few minutes later, she found an opening and kicked Excelsior away from Harry.
"Let me take control now!" Charlus shouted and just as Luna was about to pierce Harry's heart.
A moment later, Luna was engulfed in phoenix fire. And Albus Dumbledore was upon the two, in between the two fighters. His face was resolute and frightening because there was no trace of the grandfather. It was the fighter in front of them this time. "Enough!" were the only words on his lips before they found themselves in the Grimauld place.
Fawkes let out drops of tears on Harry and Dumbledore floated a goblet of blood for Luna while he created the wards to seal both of them. "I ask you for one thing to not do and you both disappoint me tonight." Albus said as he sat down on a cushy couch he transfigured. The aged man still exuded the aura of controlled rage. He then took a deep breath and closed his eyes, letting the pressure of his magical powers that seeped through his emotions ease.
A few moments later that felt like years to Harry, Albus let out a long whistle and his countenance turned back into a chiding grandfather from a battle-hardened warrior.
"I supposed it is my fault for letting things happen and not intervening earlier." Albus remarked, closing his eyes and resting his back on the couch he created. "I did not anticipate Severus to have a longer engagement tonight of all nights." He added, letting out a deep sigh of frustration.
Albus faced Luna and said "It is disappointing that you Ms. Lovegood, my most self restrained student have surrendered to the bloodlust so freely even after having your fill. I had my encounters with a vampire like you and she snaps out of it after her fill of a finch. It was our agreement for your stay in Hogwarts. I hope you think about it in your stay here."
The Headmaster then turned his attention to Harry and remarked "And you, Mr. Potter. Had you informed Minerva first in between your rush to Ms. Lovegood's attempted feeding of a witch, you would not be in the situation you were. Fledging vampires are nothing to trifle with, even with your new found strength. You are never alone, even if I asked you for a vow to protect the students. We are all honor bound to protect all of you, sometimes, even from yourselves. If we had lost you, this war would have been truly lost." Albus ended his rant with his right hand removing his half-moon spectacles and pinching his nose bridge with his left hand while closing his eyes.
"Unfortunately, I cannot stay long. Both of you are sealed up for tonight until I come back. No points will be taken from each of your houses but will serve detention with me until I decide that tonight's lesson has stuck. Fawkes will stay here as well. See you later, Ms. Lovegood and Mr. Potter." With those words, a muffled pop was heard and Albus was gone.
Fawkes rested on the perch in the middle of the room, glancing between Harry who's healing and pensive and Luna who looks calm but contemplating.
Luna was looking back into her actions and was ashamed of losing her control. She knew that she had her thoughts while feeding on the buck, but she let her thirst control her. Luna looked at Harry and instinctively reached out of her pocket and felt the picture frame. It was the same one that convinced her to slay her maker, train harder and keep her morals straight, especially when she had nearly the best of both worlds of being a vampire and a spell weaver.
"Harry, remember the time you saw the threstrals?" Luna inquired, not bearing to look at Harry yet.
With Harry feeling slightly better than before, he looked at Luna and replied "Yeah, I remember it Luna."
"That was the first time in a long time… That anyone had spoken to me at length. My mother had always told me that understanding people by being true with them is the best way to truly gauge who they are. I never understood that before until that conversation. Of course it was a conversation between two people who saw death for what it is. It's the circle we all come to and the sooner we accept it, the sooner we'll be at peace with it." Luna elaborated while mending the clothes she had with her free hand using the magic of the surrounding to sew it back.
Harry nodded and remarked "Yeah. That's why we have to be prepared to meet it doing the right thing. I missed these chats we have. You used to make sense of things so well and piece it together easily." He paused for a bit and suddenly remembered something. "You still have that sketchpad of yours?"
Luna this time turned her attention on Harry, her face blank for a moment before giving him a soft smile with the dreamy look she used to have. "I even have a new sketch." She turned her attention to Fawkes and said "Be a dear Fawkes and hand it to him. Don't worry about any attempt to attack him. I'm alright now with my fill." She handed a sketch book from one of her expanded pockets to the phoenix and saw it go to Harry.
Harry reached it and thanked Fawkes before opening it and quietly looking at the sketches. "I remember most of these. This was the time you tried to draw all of us at the end of the school year." He pointed at the well drawn sketches of Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Neville, him and Luna. Of course, this was before he turned to another page and saw the difference of skill from that sketch to the new one.
It was a nearly lifelike sketch of Ron and Hermione this year. The two were studying under one of the many oak trees near the lake and everything on the sketch moved, from the trees to the rippling of the water from the wind gently blowing. Every now and then, while Hermione was busy scribbling, Ron sneaked glances with a genuine smile on his face. Seeing that Hermione was too engrossed with the book again, Ron made a funny face, which Hermione squinted her eyes in faux annoyance then the two laughed at Ron's antics.
"When did you see this?" Harry asked, his face a mixture of shock, surprise and amusement. 'Finally, Ron slowly making a move on Hermione' He thought while hearing Charlus chuckle along.
"I saw that just a few days ago, while they were making their assignment in transfiguration. I drew them and enchanted them to move as I saw that day after finishing the sketch. Honestly, I think it's about time." Luna replied, letting out a melodious laugh. Harry joined along for a couple of moments before the place grew silent once more.
"So Luna… Where do we go from here?" Harry asked, unsure what to do now since they can't be the same anymore.
Luna crooked her head to the left, never leaving her eyes on Harry and replied "We try again." She placed her hand on the picture in her pocket again. "Start a new leaf, with this. I have a confession to make." She took out the picture frame with Harry's picture facing her.
"When I said my intended back in the battle against Sanguini, I already had someone in mind. Someone brave but moody, noble, humble but with a quick wit and a moral compass second to none. He is someone who could reach my very soul like a violin while being real. Imperfect in temper, in analyzing the world around him, yet by his stubbornness, comes out on top. I wouldn't mind being with him and bearing my very soul to him to know and love over time."
Luna took a deep breath and her blue eyes fixed on Harry's emerald green eyes that exuded all the honesty in the world. "My intended is you. I wouldn't have it any other way Harry Potter." She put the frame down, Harry's face visible to her, Fawkes and Harry himself.
"And the question is, will you bare your soul to me too, be my friend again over time and love me back for who I am inside and out." Luna smiled at him and lied down on the ground, sleeping and not waiting for his answer.