Clear as water
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.# Many thanks to Irda and SpacedCadet for the recommendations. And last time I forgot to thank Siakela, many apologies for that!<br> <br> 15 Clear as water
The group that sat in the Headmaster’s office was subdued. The teachers were physically and magically tired and the Weasleys emotionally exhausted. Albus Dumbledore was therefore not pleased when the fire burned green in the fireplace and the mellifluous voice of Lucius Malfoy was heard. “Headmaster? May we come through?”
Before Dumbledore could reply Molly let out a relieved sigh and Arthur called out, “Lucius, Narcissa, yes, by all means,” before he cast an apologetic glance at Dumbledore.
The entire staff, with the exception of Snape and Dumbledore, looked dumbstruck, and even they obviously had to work to hide their surprise.
Lucius Malfoy stepped through and then helped Narcissa as she stepped out of the great fireplace.
Molly moved over to the younger woman and helped her to a seat, flicking the ashes of her with a minor spell, fussing over her like a mother hen. Narcissa looked pale and wan but composed. “
Arthur looked at Lucius. “Were you successful?
Lucius pursed his lips. “Partially. Xeno is resting as comfortably as he can. As much as we can speak of a ‘he’ at the moment.” The elegant features tightened in anger before Lucius composed himself again and resumed speaking. “The Ministry is blocked on their attempt to take control of Luna and her inheritance, I put a petition of Guardianship in under the Act of Affiancing and I suggest Molly puts one in under the Attendant Mother Act of 1487. Rutland House has no Will on record for Xeno, but he may have a holograph at home. My solicitors are there to make certain that the Ministry doesn’t destroy it. I requested the presence of Moody and Shacklebolt at the house and Madam Bones agreed,” Lucius smirked. “Stating the possible political and international problems that might result from any uncertainty at this time, she considered it a wise move.”
“Act of Affiancing?” Minerva asked in a dangerous voice. “What in Merlin’s name are you planning, Mr. Malfoy?”
Lucius gave her an arch look. “Lord Malfoy, if you please, Professor. And to keep Miss Lovegood out of the hands of the Ministry.”
“And into yours? And a marriage with Draco?” Filius was fingering his wand. “What guarantees are there that she would have a choice?”
“My word,” Lucius replied evenly.
Dumbledore blinked and nodded gravely. “Nevertheless, I would prefer the Attendant Mother Act. No insult intended against you, Lord and Lady Malfoy, but there would be talk. Especially considering your own… shenanigans while at school.”
“They’re far too young for that!” Narcissa objected, before blushing furiously as her old teachers coughed in amusement. Severus gave the pair a considering look and then winked, ever so slightly, at Lucius. A slight pink tinge rose up Lucius’ cheeks.
Dumbledore twinkled at the embarrassed couple. “Yes, they are. But Miss Lovegood is better acquainted with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. And the Attendant Mother Act? That alone will sway the Wizengamot. I assume you are certain?”
Lucius nodded a bit reluctantly. “I performed an Aura reading spell with Lady Margaret’s permission.”
Dumbledore pursed his lips at Molly, who gazed at him defiantly. “Interesting. I wasn’t aware of the talent emerging so late in anybody. Then again, the Spirit powers have become very rare among us.”
“I don’t think they have,” Lucius stated from his place next to Narcissa’s chair. He’d taken her hand in an unconscious gesture. “I think we’ve been using magic for so many other things that we’ve been draining them.”
Filius blinked and then he pursed his lips. “Explain, Mr. Malfoy.”
Lucius unconsciously straightened as if he were still a student being questioned by a teacher and began his explanation.
“The Prewetts have had Mother Witches in their lineage since time immemorial. They suddenly stopped appearing, about the same time as the Sundering... when we started using magic for everything.” He let his voice trail off.
Filius leaned back against the pillows of the low chair that Dumbledore kept on hand especially for him. “That is the old argument of the Channelers, of course. We never found evidence for it before and it does not explain why Mrs. Weasley has been exhibiting her Talent, if she has it. She’s been using her magic just as much as I have, I’m sure.”
“I haven’t,” Molly denied. “I’ve hardly been using magic, except to fly my broom to the shops. And even then I usually walk.”
Minerva gave her a look. “And why is that?”
“Because it takes longer to do things by hand. I don’t have to cook for seven, or even three. I have no children running about. All I have is a great big empty house and worry and I need to occupy my time,” Molly replied evenly.
Minerva blinked and exchanged looks with Filius and Albus. Dumbledore shrugged, the twinkle in his eye slightly subdued. “I can sense the power in her. And the explanation... I always wondered why the talents died out so suddenly.”
Minerva shook her head “Well, if you say so. I still think the notion is wrong. Magic is magic, some have more of it than others, or different types. The finite magic idea has never made sense to me.”
Pomona Sprout, who had been eying Narcissa and Lucius nodded and then rose. “Well, that’s neither here nor there. This has been very exciting, and exhausting and I think that Lady Malfoy should go to the Infirmary and have Poppy look her over, unless that was done at St. Mungo’s?”
Filius looked at his colleague in astonishment. “What? Whatever for?”
Pomona grinned at the little man. “Well all this excitement might be bad for the baby.”
Narcissa flushed scarlet and Lucius threw an accusing glance at Severus who merely smirked. “Don’t glare at me, Lucius. It’s a woman thing.”
Pomona snorted. “A woman thing? Really, Severus. Come Miss Bla- I mean Lady Malfoy.”
Narcissa’s blush deepened and she hastened out of the room with Pomona. Albus Dumbledore looked after her sadly. Then he took his wand and extended it to Lucius. “Severus? I will need your help with an Unbreakable Vow I feel a terrible urge to swear to Lord Malfoy regarding his unborn child.”
BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS BtVSBtVS
Cornelius Fudge smiled as he sat back in his chair. “Well, Crouch, no one can say we did not make an effort.”
Bartemius Crouch smiled back. “Indeed, Minister,” the Head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation replied obsequiously. “And after the Grand Magister of the Concordat has refused, we can ask the Norwegian Minister to send an appropriate independent third party.”
“The woman is unsuitable for her position, and thankfully she knows it. It was a stroke of genius, you have to admit.” *Of course it was, you bloody pillock, and I thought of it.*
Crouch smiled again. “She’s a powerful Channeler – not in our league of course, but she has no knowledge of our society and knows her limitations. It was a foregone conclusion that she would refuse, however politely.”
Just as he had finished the window flew open and an enormous Bald Eagle flew into the room, perching right above the Minister’s head on the great carven chair. It let out a raucous cry and extended an imperious foot onto which was tied a clear cylinder holding some sort of paper or parchment.
“Merlin! That’s a big bird.”
“Official Messenger bird for the Concordat Secretariat, Minister. They only use it to communicate with the Secretary of Magic at Salem and other Wizarding centres.”
Fudge poked the cylinder. “And what’s this, hey? Doesn’t look like glass... It might be dangerous!”
Crouch sighed and reached out, untying the cylinder and noting that it had recessed slits that allowed a ribbon to be pulled through. “I doubt it, Minister. This is just a way for them to keep the letter dry and safe without magic.” He opened the cylinder and a spark of magic stung his fingers, strong enough to set his hair on end. He sucked his fingers against the pain and muttered. “Perhaps not.” An envelope fell out of the cylinder. It bore the great seal of the Concordat, the Eagle on the Skull and was addressed to Her Majesty’s Minister of Magic, a reminder of the fact that despite everything the Wizards still owed some allegiance to the British crown.
He handed it over and Fudge accepted it eagerly, breaking the seal. “Well, now we shall see…” Fudge read quickly and then his eyes bulged. “Merlin’s yellow teeth!”
“She’s sending her newly appointed Grand Questor. Simon Meier, the former Grand Magister.” Fudge swallowed. “Dammit Crouch, why did I let you talk me into going along with this stupid plan of yours!”
Barty Crouch sighed and wondered why he’d thought it a good idea to support Fudge. He must have been drunk. Or maybe under the Imperius Curse.
“Well, Mr. Weasley? What do you have to say for yourself?” Minerva McGonagall asked in a cold, hard voice as she sat in her office looking at the young man with disappointment in her eyes. “What kind of example can you set if you act in this way? Not to mention the fact that you could have been killed! Did you even consider that possibility?”
“Yes, Professor McGonagall,” Percy admitted.
“Don’t you care? Do you realize that I may have to remove you as Prefect?”
Percy pursed his lips. “It had occurred to me, yes. I can resign if that makes it easier for you.”
“You thought about this? You planned this? And you went through with it?”
“Yes, Professors. I’m sorry.”
Minerva glared at him. “Get out of my sight. I’ll let you know if you can continue your duties as Prefect.”
Percy nodded politely and left. Minerva rose and stalked to the staffroom. Severus was sitting at the staff table, correcting essays, a large inkwell with plenty of red ink at hand.
“I suppose you find this amusing, Severus? That one of my Prefects may lose his badge?”
“No. And he won’t.”
Minerva blinked. “What?”
“If you had listened
to me when I spoke in Albus’ office, you would’ve heard what I said.”
“You said you would oppose anyone remaining Prefect who went to the Forbidden Forest for some boneheaded stunt or stupid bet,” Minerva replied after some thought.
“Yes. Do you really think Percy Weasley would go to the Forbidden Forest for a bet? Or a stunt?”
“What? What else can you go there for? I admit he hasn’t told me yet why he went there, but I’ll worm it out of him-”
Severus’ barked out a laugh. “That boy will tell you nothing.”
“Really? I pride myself on being able to convince my students to tell me their troubles.” Minerva replied smugly.
“And are you always able to separate truth from lies?” Severus sneered. “Like the lies your precious Potter and Black told you? And Pettigrew and Lupin? Do you really want to hear the black evil that dwells in the hearts of your little lion cubs?”
Minerva paled. “Severus-”
“And even if he did tell you, Minerva, I doubt you would really understand.” Severus rose, striding out of the room, his robes billowing.
His marking lay abandoned on the table and Minerva sighed as she looked at it. “Well, let’s hope he doesn’t run into too many Gryffindors until he’s cooled down. We might never catch up on the point spread.” *Oh Severus, will you – CAN YOU – ever forgive us?*
Penelope Clearwater came into the Great Hall for dinner and immediately all voices stilled, all noise ceased. She blinked and looked around. She was late, but not that late. She’d been doing research on a Charms essay and had forgotten the time and, well, okay, maybe she was incredibly late, but this was ridiculous. She took a deep breath and strode into the hall, her shoulders back, head held high. She could feel the eyes upon her as she made her way to the Ravenclaw table, even the eyes of the teachers and staff. And then she froze. Beside her plate, at the empty place among her friends, in a sparkling crystal vase stood a deep, red rose. Penelope gulped her eyes wide and her hands went to her chest, curling into fists. She very slowly walked to the table and sat down. She reached out with trembling fingers and closed her hand around the stem of the rose. The thorns moved away to prevent harming her. Very gently she lifted it from the vase and brought it to her nose. She had thought that the room had been quiet before, but now it was literally possible to hear a pin drop as all those present held their breath.
Penelope sniffed. A small smiled curled around her lips and she put the rose back into its vase, then got up and walked very carefully towards the Gryffindor table.
Percy looked up at her, his heart in his eyes. Penelope noted that he was not wearing his badge. “Percy, stand up.”
Percy stumbled to his feet uncertainly. Penelope grabbed the front of Percy’s robes and hauled him in for a kiss... a long searing kiss. Percy’s hands came up and around, resting on Penelope’s shoulder blades. A sigh ran through the entire hall.
On the dais that held the high table Minerva McGonagall leaned towards Severus Snape and put her hand on his “I do understand, Severus. Better than you may think,” then she wrinkled her nose. “And from the look of dismay on Mr. Jordan’s face, I assume you used some of your Slytherins as straw men to place a few bets on the outcome of this romance?”
Severus Snape’s expression never wavered, but Minerva had taught him for seven years and worked with him for longer than that. She just grinned, shook her head in exasperation and pursed her lips. “I will expect some scones for the Staff Tea, Severus. I believe your share will run to that.”
In the doorway of the Great Hall a redheaded couple looked at the scene with tears in their eyes. “A December Rose…” Arthur whispered. “That’s my boy!”
Molly wiped her eyes. “We’d better get them out of there before they do something that they don’t want all the school to see.”
“Good thing I gave you mine in private, hmmm?” Arthur said with a leer.
Molly slapped his chest. “You are incorrigible, Arthur Weasley!”
“And here I thought I’d learned a lot over the years…”
Molly shook her head in exasperation and signalled to Pomona and Minerva to collect her oblivious children before they tore their robes off and made love on the Gryffindor table.
Penelope Clearwater came up for air and noticed she was in Calder’s Nook, in Percy’s arms, pressed against the wall. She smiled. “How did we get here?”
Percy blinked. “I don’t know.” He looked around, then took out his wand and muttered some words at the arched entrance. “There, that means we won’t be disturbed.”
“That would work very nicely if someone wasn’t already here, dear,” Molly Weasley’s voice drawled from the window seat. Percy yelped and jumped away from Penelope, blushing furiously. Penelope blushed very becomingly, he noted.
“Mum! What? How?”
“We got an owl to be at Hogwarts for dinner. Anonymous, but it told us something important was going to happen in the lives of one of our sons,” Molly rose. “I’ll leave you alone now, and trust to your good sense. Oh, and Percy? Tell her everything. And I give you one thought: it’s quite expensive setting up a household.” She gave her son a piercing glance, nodded at Penelope with a smile and left.
Penelope looked confused and a trifle hurt. “I thought she approved of me?”
Percy smiled ruefully. “She does. She just reminded me of an argument we’ve been having since summer,” he took a deep breath. “Penny, my family does not have a lot of money. There are a lot of us, even with Bill and Charlie now working and living on their own. Both are still apprentices at their jobs, no matter how good they are, and still need some support from Mum and Dad. I-I got a job last summer, when we were not in Egypt.”
Penelope’s eyes narrowed. “Percy…”
Percy rushed on. “I got three jobs, actually. I helped in the accounts office of Flourish and Blotts at nights, the shipping department of Zonko’s during the day and I cleaned at the Magical Menagerie before that.”
“Percy, did you try to give your money to your mother?” Penelope interrupted the adoringly babbling redhead. *Adoringly babbling? You have it bad, girl.*
Percy fidgeted with the hem of his robes. “Yes. She refused. She told me that it was mine, that I would need it, that they, we would manage, especially with the prize. I-I told her I wanted Ginny to wear some new clothes, and for Ron to have a better broom so he could be a Keeper, he’s got real skills at that-”
Penelope put a finger to his lips and blinked away her tears as she looked at Percy’s anxious blue eyes. “Let me guess, you thought I would be angry that you would give away the money you earned to your mother instead of saving it? And that I would be angry at how poor your family is? That you weren’t good enough?”
Percy nodded infinitesimally, his eyes still worried.
“Percy Ignatius Weasley, if you ever wonder why I love you, think back to this conversation and what it really means. And if you ever think again that I’ll ever be ashamed of you, I’ll play Quidditch with two bludgers. Understood?”
Percy winced. “Yes, love. Err… How do you know about ‘Ignatius’?”
Penny giggled. “Your mother told me. She said I’d need it.”
Percy flushed. Penelope took his face in her hands and kissed him lightly. “Percy? Tell your mother half.”
Percy blinked, and then he nodded and leaned his head towards her. “Yes. But I’ll tell her later.”
Penny was about to protest, but his lips fitted to hers so nicely…
LLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSDLLSD Tuesday, December 19th
“She’s conscious of her surroundings again. She’s asking for you.”
Albus Dumbledore sighed at the green, fiery face of Madam Pomfrey. “I’ll be there directly. As a matter of fact, I’ll step through.” He stepped forward to the fireplace and then through it. “Miss Lovegood, you wanted to see me?”
“Headmaster. Yes,” Luna Lovegood was pale, paler even than her normally porcelain complexion. Her eyes were haunted and her pink lips trembled as she spoke. “C-can you tell me…” She swallowed heavily, visibly trying to control herself. “Can you tell me what happened?”
“Not exactly. Might I ask how you knew? How bad it was?”
Luna smiled bitterly. “Professor Flitwick used exactly that same tone of voice when he told my father that Maman had died. I overheard him then.”
“Ah. I see,” Dumbledore pursed his lips. “In the first place, Miss Lovegood you are young but I believe a very level headed and brave young woman. I no longer dare call you a girl. Your father is not dead. His soul was stolen. Lord Malfoy and Professor Snape both agree it was done by means of a very rare and very dark spell. Like with the Dementor’s Kiss there is always a chance that a body dies from sheer shock when the soul departs. This has not occurred in your father’s case.”
“We will not summon his soul!” Luna’s eyes were hard and angry.
“That would be a heinous and evil act. No, Lord Malfoy pointed out that the soul of a trained and powerful, if err… unfocused
wizard like your father would be of immense value in any number of rituals and spells. The spell was initially developed to provide Dark wizards with souls to use in this manner.”
“So someone has taken Daddy’s soul?” Luna’s lip trembled. “Wh-what about his body?”
“It’s resting comfortably at St. Mungo’s. I hope you will excuse me if I don’t say he,” Dumbledore replied gently.
“No, I understand. What about the cost? Do I have to sell some of… Maman’s things?” Luna swallowed.
“Currently this is being treated as a daylight attack by Dementor. That means the Ministry will be footing the bill,” Dumbledore reassured the girl.
“When can I see him?” Luna asked in a trembling voice.
Dumbledore looked at Madam Pomfrey, who shook her head. “Not anytime soon. You need to be a little more stable first. You may have noticed we had to bind your core. This is temporary, but you had no control over your magic and could have done great damage to someone, or yourself while you were so grievously distressed,” He patted her comfortingly.
“Now, in the second place I’d like to talk to you about you own future, or at least the immediate one. Until we find who took your father’s soul, put it back in his body and deal with the scum who did this to him.”
Luna blinked at the iron hard tone the usually gentle headmaster used. “It can’t be Sirius Black, can it?”
Dumbledore sighed. “It might be. If he was Voldemort’s Secundus, like we think, he probably has access to some very Dark spells.”
“Oh. Might he not use Daddy’s soul as a defence then?” Luna’s eyes became distant and calculating. “It might distract the Dementors while he does other things…”
Dumbledore shuddered. “Miss Lovegood, promise me one thing. Never turn to the Dark. I find the notion immensely frightening. Have you ever heard the term ‘Ward of the Ministry’?”
Luna nodded. “I have. But I can’t be.”
Dumbledore continued. “Indeed you can’t, I don’t wish to contemplate what they would do with you or your House’s Heirlooms. Now, two families have already offered to take you in under separate Acts. We thought it best to ask you which family you prefer.”
“What are the Acts, and who are the families?” Luna asked thoughtfully.
Albus suppressed a smile. *Thank Merlin for Ravenclaw rationality.*
“The Weasley family, under the Attendant Mother Act.”
Luna’s eyes widened. “So that’s
what Maman meant!” Her face sobered again. “But though I’d like to live with the Weasleys, they do not have much money. Would they accept a stipend for me?”
“They have to, under the Act,” Dumbledore reassured her.
“And what is the second family?”
“The, ah, Malfoy family. Under the Act of Affiancing.”
Luna blinked. Then her eyes went very wide, her mouth fell open and she blushed, very, very red. “WEASLEYS!!! I’ll live with the Weasleys, please!” She glared at the Headmaster, who seemed to be suppressing laughter. “And it’s not funny! When I marry I want it to be in my own good time!”
“I understand completely, Miss Lovegood. But Lucius Malfoy did send a letter to your father, there’s a certified copy at Rutland House.”
Luna groaned and looked at the two boxes of chocolate. “It was much easier when people thought I was just Loony Lovegood. Now I have two boys after me and Pansy and Ginny want to flay me alive for stealing their boyfriends.” She started to sniffle. “And-and I can’t even ask Daddy for advice!”
Albus Dumbledore reached out and took the girl into a hug, signalling Madam Pomfrey with his eyes. The mediwitch nodded and left to get Molly Weasley. Leaving Luna to cry into the Headmaster’s beard, and Dumbledore to wonder what kind of advice Xeno would have given on his daughter’s complicated love life. *No doubt he would blame the Nargles. And he might be right too, irritating creatures.* End note: Somerset House in London once held the offices of the Registrar General of Births, Marriages and Deaths. In this AU Rutland House, part of the Ministry, fulfils that function for the Wizarding Society.