Author’s Note: This is the direct sequel to Luna Lovegood and the Dark Portrait Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, J.K. Rowling and Joss Whedon do. Thanks very much to my Betas , Letomo and EllandrahSylver, but all mistakes are still mine. The following ways of notation may be found in this story. This is excluding whatever I need to represent chatting, texting and stuff like that. And you can thank Twilightwanderer for the Abbott and Costello. Speech:
“Who’s on first.” Thought:
*What’s on second.
#I-don’t-know’s on third.# Due to my stupidity I forgot to mail myself the revised version of this chapter. I apologize to my hard-working beta’s for that. Don’t forget to review! 14 December’s Rose
“I’m telling you, he’s fine, or at least as fine as he can be,” Arthur assured the younger man.
“No, he isn’t. He’s going to need distractions. We’re it,” Lucius countered.
“Why are you so certain?”
“How would you feel if Molly died?” Lucius asked without stopping, walking up the hill towards the Wizarding cemetery.
Arthur shuddered. “A good point. But Xeno… He just, well, he’s Xeno.”
“Amazing. I would never have guessed that,” Lucius drawled with a perfectly straight face.
Arthur guffawed. “You know, you’re a lot better company than I expected. And the last two weeks you’ve been perfectly – well, happy…” His eyes widened. “It’s worked hasn’t it?”
Lucius grinned. “Yes. It has. In a few months time you may expect a sizeable amount of money in your Gringott’s account.”
Arthur stiffened. “What?! What are you talking about?”
Lucius swung his cane. “There are rules about these things, and even old rates and regulations. I looked them up and had Gringott’s calculate the inflation rate and other such drivel. It’s the law, Weasley. Molly provides a service, she gets paid. And you know as well as I do how important that is in business such as this.”
Arthur opened his mouth to protest and then closed it again. “So that is all this was for you? Business?”
Lucius snorted. “Weasley, if that was all it was then only Narcissa would need to be here and I wouldn’t have gone off catching Ford Anglias with you. Nor would I be walking towards a cemetery to see if Lovegood is as well as circumstances allow.”
Arthur grinned. “You enjoyed it, admit it.”
“The Forbidden Rose was definitely a good thing,” Lucius grudgingly allowed.
Arthur grinned. “Well, Molly was certainly appreciative. Was that the night…?”
Lucius raised an eyebrow. “Really, Weasley... do Gryffindors kiss and tell? Slytherins certainly don’t.”
Arthur smiled. “No. We don’t. I must admit I never thought I’d say it, but I look forward to seeing the newest addition to the Malfoy Family. Does Draco know yet?”
Lucius shook his head. “We’re waiting until the third month, just to be certain. He has enough to distract him.”
“Luna?” Arthur pulled his lip, worriedly.
“Yes,” Lucius looked at Arthur and his eyes narrowed. “What’s wrong with that?”
“Nothing, nothing at all. Well, this is an equally bad day for her. And well… Molly and I think that Harry might carry a torch for her. Not that he realizes it, but well...”
“Potter?” Lucius sighed. “Another thing for them to quarrel about.”
Arthur blinked. “You don’t seem very, well, err…”
“I realize that Draco has been acting like a spoiled brat. Narcissa and I probably overcompensated. At least he isn’t a bully on the level of the so-called Marauders,” Lucius replied with disdain.
Arthur nodded. “I was shocked to hear what went on then. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Molly that angry. Albus is lucky Molly didn’t hear about it earlier. If she had, none of our sons would have gone to Hogwarts and he’d have found out about the anger of a Prewett firsthand.”
“Yes. I was there and I never realized quite how bad it was for Severus. I don’t think he ever really got over it.”
They swung into the gates of the cemetery and walked to the aisle where Arthur knew the grave of Soleil was located.
Xenophilius Lovegood was sprawled over his wife’s grave. Both men broke into a run. Arthur winced as Lucius turned the man over and he took in the pale complexion and the vacant eyes, the drool dribbling down his chin.
“He’s been Kissed. Merlin’s hairy arse, he’s been Kissed!” Arthur swore.
“No, he hasn’t,” Lucius growled, as he ran his hands down Xeno’s body.
“He’s soulless, Malfoy! Look at him!” Arthur insisted.
“Yes. But this was no Dementor. It was a spell.”
“How can you tell?” the older man demanded.
“While I was in Azkaban I was given a very thorough description of what a kissed person looks like. It leaves the mark of a set of lips on the mouth or forehead, sometimes the cheek. There’s also an expression of horror, that will last for days on the face of the victim,” Lucius looked up, his eyes dark. “Not to mention the fact that I read up on Soul-stealing spells recently.”
Arthur nodded his understanding. “Of course. What do we do?”
“We get him to St. Mungo’s. And then we have to tell his daughter,” Lucius said heavily. “And then I go and visit some old school chums and find out who did this.”
Cornelius Fudge frowned as he read the dispatch. “You’re certain that Lovegood is down?”
“Yes, Minister,” Edgar Rowle stood at attention before the desk.
“Very well. We’ll send a press release about the matter to the Daily Prophet. A most regretful accident. Miss Lovegood will of course, become a Ward of the Ministry.”
Rowle bowed slightly. “Yes, Minister.”
Fudge smiled as the man left. *Well now, once we’ve caught the rogue Dementor and played the Press, allayed the fear of Public Opinion… Yes, the Lovegood Memorial Library, under Ministry control, will be just what we need. And no doubt many fine and upstanding young men will queue for a chance to marry the final scion of so great a lineage. Yes. I’m sure this will all end up for the best.*
Draco looked at the bag in his hand. He could hear the inarticulate weeping coming from the infirmary where Luna had been tied to the bed. Not even Myrtle had been able to get through to her. He took a deep breath and knocked. The door opened and Madam Pomfrey looked out. “I really think- Oh. Mr. Malfoy.” Her tone softened considerably.
Draco thrust the bag towards her. “You probably won’t let me see her. But I got her this.”
Madam Pomfrey took the bag and nodded. “I will see to it she gets it. And Mr. Malfoy? Once she’s a bit better, you
will be allowed to see her.”
Draco nodded and winced at a particularly loud wail from the infirmary. Then he turned and left, his shoulders slumped.
Madam Pomfrey bit her lip and then cast the silencing spell again. She went into the Infirmary and took in the rather frazzled looking members of staff that sat there.
“The silencing spell failed. She's discharging at an incredible rate. If this continues, she may do her magical core a severe injury.”
Filius nodded. “We may need to Bind her temporarily.”
“Please, let’s,” Severus gasped, as another discharge struck the shield he kept up around the girl on the bed. “Where does she get this power?”
“I don't know. I doubt that under normal circumstances she would have sufficient power to affect us so much,” Dumbledore said from the corner of the room, his hands on his knees. “But as you know in cases of extreme grief, loss and other emotions, magic can be strengthened.”
“True.” Filius looked at Poppy. “I think, you and I together, Poppy?”
“No. We need people she trusts more than us. We need Arthur and Molly Weasley.” Poppy replied.
Severus nodded. “Yes, unless we have a family member hiding somewhere they are closest to her. We should not make this more difficult than it already is.”
“What plans do we have for her? I assume the Weasleys will take her in?” Filius asked as he moved to the Infirmary Floo to ask the Weasleys to come over.
“Fudge wants to make her a Ward of the Ministry,” Dumbledore replied in a cold voice. “Which I will not allow.”
Filius growled. “And sell her to some pureblood scum? I think not.” Filius cast a handful of powder in the fire and watched the flames burn green.
“We will not allow that to happen, Filius. We will need to play this through the Wizengamot if Fudge does make a move towards wardship.”
Filius spoke softly into the fire and minutes later, Molly and Arthur Weasley stepped into the room, both showing the signs of recent grief. “Let's do this as fast as possible, Poppy,” Arthur sighed after looking at the girl on the bed.
Poppy nodded. “I have the spell here.” She gestured at a large leather tome and Arthur and Molly hurried over to study it.
“This is only temporary, Poppy?” Molly asked anxiously as she studied the spell.
“Yes, Molly it is. We can reverse it quite easily. But if we let her continue this...”
“I know. I know. But if she thinks it's permanent, that may do even more damage.” Molly gently took Luna's right hand and Arthur took the other. They extended their wands over her body and touched Luna's forehead, sternum and abdomen. The crackling energy stopped the greasy feeling of excessive magic in the air faded away. Only the girl’s sobbing remained.
Molly sat by the bed and gently stroked Luna’s forehead. “There were men from the Ministry at Rook House already, to try and get the D’Albane Heirlooms.”
Dumbledore sighed. Snape snorted. “Dear me. It took them only what, two hours? What a surprise.”
“The D’Albane inheritance is far too important to allow it to fall into the hands of the Ministry,” Filius stated worriedly. “We can’t stand idly by and let them seize it!”
“They won’t be able to. I assume that several European nations will be filing protests. The D’Albane had properties throughout Europe. There must be half a dozen countries with as legitimate claim to make Miss Lovegood their ward as the British Ministry.” Dumbledore stroked his beard.
“They have no right to do so!” Molly asserted.
“Exactly,” Dumbledore agreed, nodding solemnly. Then he looked at the bag Madam Pomfrey had carried in. “I assume that contains a gift of confectionary from Mr. Malfoy?” he asked hopefully.
Madam Pomfrey lifted an eyebrow. “I assume so, Headmaster. And she is getting all of it. You buying her new candy is not
the same as getting it from Mr. Malfoy. Trust me on this.”
Dumbledore sighed. “Oh Fiddlesticks. Foiled again.”
Harry was pacing in Calder’s Nook, the Common Room being full of curious people discussing Luna as if she was a freak, or wondering what was going to happen to her now. It was not the type of conversation Harry wanted to listen to. Especially when they kept looking at him the way they did, as if he knew something.
“Hey Harry,” Neville said rather shyly. “I got something for you.” He pushed a box at Harry, who took it, confused.
“Chocolates? Why are you giving me chocolates?”
“Because you can’t buy them yourself. And Grandfather told me that boys should buy girls they like candy,” Neville replied carefully.
Harry made a faint gargling noise, his eyes going very wide and settling on Neville’s friendly face while his heartbeat started to sound like the entire field of the Derby Stakes.
“So errr… you can give those to Luna and you can pay me back later,” Neville continued now rather more hesitant. “You err… you do like her right?”
“P-Pay? Like?” Harry’s heartbeat slowed very slightly from its panicked racing, but not much.
“Yeah, I don’t get that much allowance. I like you, Harry, but I’m not gonna buy all the candy you should give to your g-girlfriend.” Neville blushed as he said the last word.
“G-girlfriend?” Harry stammered out in unconscious mimicry.
“Yeah, sure. I mean, she yells at you and tells you what to do. And she gets annoyed when you play with her hair. That sounds like a girlfriend to me, I think. And she will need a shoulder to cry on, you know, once she’s stopped blowing everything up.” Neville said uncertainly.
Harry made another gargling noise.
“H-Harry?” Neville was by now blushing and stammering. “Harry, you alright? I know you must be worried about Luna, but you’re really not looking g-good.”
“I’m sure Madam Pomfrey will let you see her real soon, I mean she’s your girlfriend-”
“Harry? I think you oughta sit down, mate, you’re really pale.”
Harry slid down the wall to sit on the windowseat. *Girlfriend? People think Luna is my girlfriend? Why don’t I know that? Is this what it is like to have a girlfriend? Do I like Luna like that?*
Neville looked at him worriedly. “You sit right there, Harry. I’ll go and get Madam Pomfrey.
Harry merely blinked.
Madam Pomfrey sighed as she closed the door behind the still dazed Harry. “Albus, that boy needs help. He’s unable to recognize the fact that he has feelings for a girl. I don’t know what in the name of Merlin you were thinking when you sent him to live with those dreadful people, but if you want him dead, emotionally stunted and depressed, by all means continue sending him there.”
Albus Dumbledore nodded as he looked at the two boxes of chocolate sitting on the nightstand by Luna’s bed. “I’m aware of the problem, Poppy. There were reasons I thought were sufficient, but recently a different solution has come to my attention, which I will most gladly implement, if I can convince them.”
“Convince them? Convince who? Of what?”
“Harry has a considerable fortune that has been tied up in litigation. Ordinarily when a Guardian is convicted of a crime his Ward becomes a Ward of the Ministry. However, while Sirius Black was the Guardian for Harry, he was never convicted. So the Potter estate was placed in the hand of the Wizengamot’s Treasurer Supreme. And The Treasurer Supreme refused to release more than the legal minimum from it, even for the upkeep of Harry, as long as the case was in litigation and the ‘boy was staying with mere Muggles’.”
Poppy snorted. Albus inclined his head. “I agree. But that is neither here nor there. As my new solution will settle Harry with a respected Pureblood family, with ties to the Ministry even…” his eyes twinkled.
Poppy smiled as she realized what the Headmaster was talking about and then her face fell. “They won’t accept the money.”
“Oh, but they have to. Harry is still Black’s ward, so they have no Claim on him. Unless they want Harry to owe them a Debt…”
Poppy sat down at the other side of Luna’s bed. “Albus Dumbledore, you’re a sneaky old coot!”
Albus pinched the bridge of his nose. “Yes. I just wish that… I wish that sometimes I was a better judge of people.”
Poppy hmph. “Like who?”
“Sirius Black. Severus Snape. To name but two.”
Poppy sighed. “Yes, you messed that up. Albus… why was Black never given a trial?”
Albus Dumbledore looked up, his eyes hard and without even a single sign of twinkle. “That would have meant he would have been Kissed. And that would’ve been far too easy a death for a man such as him, for the crimes that he committed.”
Poppy swallowed heavily as she realized what Dumbledore meant. And for the first time in her life, Poppy Pomfrey was afraid of him.
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS
Ginny Weasley sat looking at the boy in the corner of the common room, who was busily snipping away at a small plant or tree in a pot. She bit her lip and then walked to stand next to him. “Hey, Neville.”
Neville looked up, smiled, and prodded Trevor with his finger until the toad moved over so Ginny could sit. Trevor eyed both of them reproachfully.
“Umm… So Harry said you had a grandfather who talked to you about girls?”
“I thought you just had your grandmother and Great Uncle Algie?”
Neville nodded. “Yeah, on Dad’s side. Granddad is Mum’s granddad.”
“So he’s you great grandfather? That means he must be quite old.”
“He is, he’s older than Professor Dumbledore.” Neville snipped two leaves off the bonsai tree and carefully picked them up with tweezers and placed them in a small wooden bowl.
“Oh. That’s quite old. Err…”
“What? Where?” Ginny spun round.
Neville chuckled. “Great-Granddad. He’s professor Kettleburn.”
Ginny’s eyes widened. “Ooooohh… Is that why you’ve been spending so much time at the paddocks?”
“One reason. Greywing is the other. She was Mum’s Hippogriff.”
Neville’s mouth widened into a grin. “I’ve got a picture of her riding, and you know Granddad is on a Chocolate Frog Card? One of the very rarest! The Heroes of the Grindelwald War series!”
“Really? Wow,” Ginny looked at her clasped hands. “Neville? Do you think Harry loves Luna?”
Neville looked uncertain, his face scrunched up in thought. Then he shrugged. “Yeah, think so. I mean, he didn’t want to admit it, but I think they must have snuck off to the Nook before. And they do spend an awful lot of time together,” Neville looked thoughtful. “But she does spend a lot of time with Hermione, Ron and Malfoy too,” Neville’s broad, honest face mirrored his confusion. “Errr, and she yells at Ron. So I might be wrong. But Ron doesn’t play with her hair and she gets more annoyed with Harry…” He shrugged again.
Ginny blinked at Neville’s meandering reasoning and then sighed. “Oh. Okay. What are you doing?”
“It's called bonsai. This is a Red Dragon Gum tree and it’s three hundred years old and should be the size of the common room.” He clipped another small leaf and deposited it in the bowl with the tweezers. Ginny reached out to pick it up. Neville slapped her hand away. “Don't touch that! It's poisonous.”
Ginny's eyes widened. “Oh. So what're you gonna do with them?”
“Granddad will give them to Professor Snape, for potions,” Neville looked at her awkwardly. “Sorry for snapping at you.”
Ginny blinked. “‘S okay. I understand. Neville?”
“Nothing,” Ginny said in a tear choked voice. *It's all very well asking the girls not to chase him, but what if he doesn't want you? You never thought of that, did you Ginny?*
She thought bitterly.
Percy Weasley was a Prefect, and he believed in the Rules and Regulations that governed Hogwarts. They were there for a reason. He’d never considered them that important until his twin brothers had come to school, but seeing their behaviour, he had realised the value of the rules, even if only as a deterrent to worse. So it was with some amazement that Severus Snape, Hogwarts' most feared Professor, watched him sneak out of the Lake Postern Gate and onto the dark and snow covered grounds.
So great was his amazement that he did not immediately stop the boy, but merely followed, Disillusioned, as Percy tried to move quietly, striving to remain unseen. He was untrained but showed surprising skill at stealth, Severus noted. *The boy has unexpected depths.*
The Gryffindor Prefect was walking steadily towards the Forbidden Forest, his face grim and his hand on his wand. Severus pulled his lower lip and sighed, very softly. *A Forbidden Rose? In December? Silly young fool.*
Percy did not halt at the edge of the forest longer than was necessary to check for danger and get his bearings, Severus noted. A true Gryffindor. The boy raised his wand and a pale blue glow appeared at the tip as his Lumos took effect. His face was determined and though his wand trembled in his hand he went on, following the narrow, barely visible path under the unfriendly trees.
Severus knew it well, having taken it on numerous expeditions to gather potion ingredients. Percy obviously did not, and he occasionally had to stop to see if he was still on the right path. *Boy's lucky that the trees have kept the ground from being covered in snow, otherwise he would have ended up as Acromantula food by now.*
Severus sighed and silently stunned a Bloodbat and two Acromantulas that were trying to sneak up on Percy. *He still might.*
Percy sent of a stunner of his own and caught another Acromantula. Severus nodded approvingly. Then the trees gave way, and the darkness faded and a moonlit clearing came into view, with a large bush growing in the centre. Unhesitatingly Percy walked up to it, stuck his hand into the middle of it and in a clear voice, with only the slightest tremor, called out. “Penelope Clearwater!”
A branch twisted around his arm and wrist and Percy winced as the thorns bit deep and drew blood. Then a single, deep red rose started to bloom on the otherwise bare bush. With a sigh Percy reached for it and gently plucked it from the branch it had grown from.
Severus Snape raised an eyebrow. *Well, well. Seems like Mr, Weasley is very certain of his love for Miss Clearwater.*
Percy looked at his hand, and then at the Rose, smiled gently and headed back towards the castle, as quickly as his legs could carry him. Severus Snape followed, removing a number of threats from the lad's path. Once Percy was out from under the trees, Severus hurried up to the postern gate. Percy came in a few minutes later, only to feel a heavy hand on his shoulder. “Fifty points from Gryffindor, Mr. Weasley. And I'll be informing the Headmaster of this little escapade...”
Percy swirled around, his expression shocked. Severus Snape snarled and led him to Gryffindor tower, before patrolling for another hour. Then he returned to his room, wearily. He hesitated, and then waved his wand in an intricate pattern, until a well hidden cupboard opened. Inside, suspended in midair floated a single, dark red rose. Severus sat down in a chair facing the cupboard, gently turned back his left sleeve and gazed at the tiny scars the thorns of the Forbidden Rose had left there. “Lily…”