A Bolt from the Blue
Author’s Note: 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.# I’ve been messing with Beta’d files again… any egregious errors of punctuation that slipped in are mine, and not the long suffering EllandrahSylver’s and Letomo’s, who have been trying to wean me off them for months… 19 A Bolt from the Blue
Harry and Ron ran up the stairs to their dormitory carrying their presents, laughing and joking. When they reached the dorm Ron sobered.
“Yeah, mate?” Harry grinned over his pile of sweaters, cookies and heavy knitted, leather lined Quidditch gloves, (one of nine pairs distributed to all the younger members of the family) the knitting by his new Mum, the leather supplied by Charlie, courtesy of a sloughing dragon and tanned by his new Dad in the shed and attached to the palms of the gloves by both Mum and Dad and bearing anti-curse wards placed by Bill.
“I’d like to apologize for having been a prat,” Ron looked at his shoes. “You know, for bein’ jealous an’ all.”
Harry blinked. “Ron…” Then he dropped his presents on his bed and thumped Ron on the shoulder. “You’re forgiven. And thank you, if you hadn’t been my friend, I wouldn’t have become your brother.”
Ron grinned back. “Yeah, well you were getting the sweaters anyway. That made you family right there.”
Harry laughed. “There’s that.”
Ron started packing away his presents when his eye fell on a long, boxlike rectangular package was under the tree the boys had put up in the dorm. It was a Douglas fir, in excellent shape due to Neville’s ministrations. Both Harry and Ron had to solemnly swear not to touch the thing since Neville wanted to replant it. Ron leaned over the package and saw Harry’s name, Harry James Potter, was on it, a simple label in cursive, slightly trembly script. “Hey, Harry! There’s another gift here for you!”
Harry looked up from where he was looking over the extra warm socks Molly had given him before Christmas and that he had stowed away for the promised Quidditch match.
“Another gift?” Harry walked over and picked the package up, turning it over in his hands. It was more than two meters long, and about thirty centimetres high and wide and had the weight and heft of solid wood.
Harry looked at Ron. “Should we open this? I-I don't know the handwriting. And I've got gifts from everyone I know who cares.”
Ron blinked, and then scowled. “Merlin, Harry! You think it's from Black?”
Harry shrugged. “Might be. At any rate, there's quite a few people who want me either dead or to marry their daughter, so I think we'd better ask some people who understand about curses and stuff.”
“Yeah, you're right,” Ron admitted. “Let's go down to the Hall.”
They laboriously manoeuvred the still wrapped package down to the Common Room. Hermione was there, showing her cousin around.
“Harry? What's that?” She asked, her eyes on the label. “Who's it from?”
Harry shrugged as he put his end of the bulky box down. “Don't know, Hermione. It was under the tree. So now we're going down to see if someone there can tell me if it's safe to open.”
Hermione blinked. She had opened her mouth to protest Harry opening the thing and then closed it. With a sudden rush she was hugging him and squealed. “Oh Harry! That's so mature!”
Harry blinked and his hands came up automatically to rest on Hermione's back.
“I mean, it might be from Black, or someone else who wants to hurt you. One of the Bookies in Diagon Alley who takes bets on Hogwarts Quidditch, o-or maybe a family who want you to marry their daughter,” Hermione babbled.
Harry was doing his best to concentrate on his friend Hermione, know-it-all and busybody, swot and slave-driver who made him do his homework when he’d rather play Quidditch. And not to concentrate on Hermione, her hair smelling slightly of flowers and honey, warm in his arms and slightly taller than him still, resting her head awkwardly on his shoulder, her warm breath on his neck. He’d had more hugs from his new family in the past weeks than he could remember in the past. Mrs. Weasley was warm and Mum, Mr. Weasley was unexpected strong and Dad. And while each of his brothers and sisters had their own arm-thumping, noogie-imparting uniqueness. But for some strange reason Hermione’s made him feel warm and safe in a different way.
Next to them Ron started to snigger, but it cut off very quickly and Harry saw the glare – the very Hermione-like glare – Iphigenia Granger had directed at Ron.
Hermione got out of the embrace but grabbed Harry's hand. “Come on, we'll go down and ask Professor Flitwick and Professor Lupin.”
Harry smiled. “Yeah, well, I was planning to go to Mac -” he halted at Hermione's glare and corrected himself. “Professor McGonagall’s first. She's closer.”
Hermione nodded in approval. “Very good. But I happen to know she was planning to stay in the Hall a while longer. Let's go there. Wingardium Leviosa!” She gestured at the big box with her wand and it started floating down the stairs, Hermione following, then Iphigenia.
“Hermione? Why didn't the boys use a spell to float this down?” Genie asked.
“Well, they’re boys. They've expended their sense for the day by not opening a gift from a stranger,” Hermione pointed out, casting a look up at them, slightly teasing, but mostly approving. “But honestly, I think they just wanted to show off their manly muscles.”
The boys exchanged looks. Ron shrugged sheepishly. “She got us there, mate.”
Harry shook himself. “Yeah. Let's go down before she tells McGonagall we need extra classes from Flitwick for Wingardium, eh?”
It was still quite busy in the Hall, most of the older Weasleys were still there, as well as the teachers. The elder Grangers were talking to McGonagall and Flitwick.
Dumbledore was leading a pale, wan-looking Sybill Trelawny around, steering her by the hand she had on his arm.
“Professor! Professor McGonagall!” Hermione's rather excited voice rang out.
The adults looked up, disturbed, and saw the girl, followed by Harry and Ron and flanked by Iphigenia, make her way into the hall floating a large box.
“Miss Granger?” McGonagall asked, rather confused. “What is that?”
Hermione gestured at Harry to speak.
“Err...” Harry looked around rather skittishly. “I errr... You see... errr..”
Hermione let the box down and smiled at Harry. “Just tell them, Harry.”
“Harry and Hermione are getting engaged,” Fred quipped. “That's her groom gift to him and she wants witnesses.”
Harry gargled and went beet red. Hermione blushed furiously as well.
“NO!” Harry bellowed. “No, I mean, it was under the tree in our dorm. And I thought... everybody I know has already given me gifts. And errr...” he gestured helplessly at Hermione. “We're not engaged.”
Dumbledore chuckled. “We'd gathered that, Harry,” his blue eyes twinkled. “Not that you would not make a very handsome couple...”
Hermione let out a startled 'eeep' and fled to her mother who glared at Dumbledore, but with just a little too much amusement to make a real impression.
“What a pity,” Fred sighed.
“We could have danced the night away,” George continued.
“At the betrothal ceremony,” Fred pretended to remove a tear.
“Ah, it would have been so beautiful,” George sniffled.
“But that cad, Harry, our brother,” Fred but a hand on his chest and struck a dramatic pose.
“Won't make an honest woman out of her...” George sighed mournfully.
“Stop it, you two,” Molly told the twins severely. “That's enough.”
Both twins turned to her, but their mother's implacable look quieted their tongues for once. “Yes, Mum. Sorry Hermione, Harry. Just teasing.”
Harry nodded, face flaming. Hermione had buried herself in Jean's shoulder and the woman was looking at Harry rather thoughtfully.
“Wha's innit then?” Hagrid rumbled, eying the package.
“We'll see,” Flitwick decided. “Lupin, Snape, with me. Albus, Silvanus, you stand by and ready.”
Snape sighed but drew his wand, as did Lupin. With careful wand movements the Charms professor opened the wrapping, depositing it carefully to the side, then studied the dark, burnished wood. “Firebolt? A broom?”
Snape eyed Harry. “Very clever. Everybody knows that Potter can't think where Quidditch is concerned. He would have opened an exploding box or jumped on a broom with a hex on it in seconds in most circumstances.”
Harry glared at the man but didn't respond to the jibe. There was a lot of truth in it after all.
Flitwick walked around the box, tracing a circle, muttering. Then another gesture and the box opened, revealing a magnificent broom.
Harry sighed. Snape sneered. Molly came and stood by Harry, laying a hand on his shoulder. “You made the right decision, Harry. I’m very proud of you.”
Harry looked at the broom and sighed again. “I-if it’s not cursed, is it mine?”
Flitwick blinked, as did Lupin. Snape shook his head. “Potter, your name was on it. If there is a curse on it, and it can be removed, it will still be yours. After the Aurors are through with it as evidence,” he added nastily.
Harry glared at him again, but kept silent.
Bill walked up to the circle and eyed the broom. “Can I help, Professor? Might be interesting to study a new curse. Well, newer than an ancient Egyptian one at any rate.”
Luna made her way, stealthily, to the high mezzanine overlooking the Great Hall. It was easier and harder to do than normal. Harder, because there were more people around who cared about her and would try and find her, and easier, because the Christmas decorations partially shielded her from view.
Two clewds of fairies, brought in by Professor Flitwick as animate decorations were serving as a distraction. So Luna arrived at the top of the stairs unnoticed and slowly made her way over to the portrait.
The grey, hovering ghost beside her gave the dark figure in the painting a bleak look.
“You told me you knew how to kill Dementors. Teach me,” Luna demanded, her face pale and set in lines of grief and hate.
“Ah, I thought you wanted to learn the language of cats?” The Portrait mildly objected.
“And what use would that be? They probably only talk about fish and other cats,” Luna gestured dismissively. “How do I kill a Dementor?”
“Luna...” The portrait sighed, “Luna, the key to destroying Dementors using magic is to use happy memories. You need to be able to cast Expecto Patronum
first. I don't think you can manage to do that right now. And you weren't making much progress before,” he reminded her gently.
Luna pulled her wand from behind her ear and pointed it at the floor, like a duellist preparing for a fight. “Teach me,” she grated out.
The portrait looked down at her and shook his head, the dark cowl moving. “No. Not until you've got more control over yourself and your emotions.”
Luna glared at her wand, and then at the portrait and then stomped off down the stairs. Myrtle, with a nod at the painting, followed quickly and worriedly.
The Christmas Dinner was more like a late Christmas Lunch. The twelve trees in the great hall were decorated in the colours of the four houses. Though table was set in the colours of Gryffindor, the rest of the decorations were far more equitably spread. Snape was sitting, morosely, at the table when Harry and Ron came in, followed by Luna and Ginny. Molly Weasley was bustling around the table and the House Elves were jumping around in near ecstasy as the redoubtable Weasley Matriarch ordered them around. Her orders were clear and concise and not a single dish was served but she tasted it and gave it her approval.
Albus Dumbledore stood beneath one of the Hufflepuff trees watching while Hagrid and Trelawney discussed magical creatures and their Oracular importance. The Grim and its significance had already been discussed and now they were working on unicorns. Albus was rather surprised at the depth of knowledge on the subject that Rubeus showed, and the respect for the notion of prophecy and oracles. That he was willing to admit that Divination worked, even if only for a small percentage of the wizarding population seemed to cheer Sybill up tremendously. *I wonder if I should tell her that Severus thinks the same,*
he mused with a slightly evil twinkle in his eye. Then he shook his head regretfully. Severus might take some teasing about Sybill but he was adamant in keeping away from romantic entanglements until Tom was defeated. It would not be fair to either of them, no matter how suitable Albus personally thought they were for each other.
Albus blinked at a surprising sound and focussed his attention on the couple beneath the tree. Sybill was giggling, smothering laughter behind her hand as Hagrid was using his wand to make a group of ornamental badgers dance with some of the Fairies. He exchanged a look with Minerva and then Filius. And not for the first time since they had decided to have the girl who wanted to be known as Sybill Eddington -her father’s name- to be Sorted as Sybill Trelawney, her mother’s House, they shared the guilt of what had happened to her.
Merrowynne Granger wandered through the Hall of Hogwarts, the heavy-rimmed wooden Spectre-specs pressing down onto her nose.
“Finding the place interesting?” A high-pitched tenor voice inquired. Merrowynne turned and then looked down, taking in the diminutive form of the man that had been introduced to her as the Charms professor.
“Just… wandering. And wondering. My eldest aunt supposedly went to a boarding school in Scotland, so I was wondering if this place is anything like that school. It was a private school.” Merrowynne looked around the festively decorated hall.
“There used to be more of those, I believe. I admit I’ve not been out in the Mu-normal world much since the Grindelwald War,” Flitwick gestured at the flittering fairies. “But quite like this school? I think she might have told you.”
Merrowynne gazed up at the clouds scudding by on the ceiling. “My aunt wasn’t talked much about in the family. Apparently she was gifted, and that made my grandparents uncomfortable. And then she died, years before I was born, an accident at school.”
“Ah. I’m sorry for your loss,” Flitwick commiserated.
Merrowynne looked down at the small man, her face mirroring her doubt. “I’m not sure I am. I never knew her, you see. She was killed at school, and the school paid my grandparents several thousand pounds in compensation. That money allowed my father to go to school, and not into the mines. He got a job in an office. I went to university. I-I often wondered, what my life would have been like if she had lived. Would I be an archaeologist? Would my cousin be a dentist? My other cousin a police inspector? Our lives were changed because she died. We became different persons, had different chances…” She gazed up at the ceiling again and then sighed. “Is it bad to feel guilt that she is dead and yet gratitude for it as well? Is it bad to think that she did more good for the family by dying than she might have done by living?”
Flitwick looked at the woman before him, noting the cheekbones and the shape of the eyes. “Myrtle Branwen Jones.” He whispered, shocked.
Merrowynn started and looked down at the small man. “Oh God… She was a witch
? She came here? H-how did she die? Nobody ever told me… If anybody ever knew…”
Flitwick hesitated. “Were you told about what happened to your niece?”
“Hermione? You mean that pervert was at this school that long?” Merrowynne’s voice took on a threatening note and Flitwick almost backed away.
“No, no,” the professor hastily assured her. “No, the man was only here for a few months. Though we are not sure that he may not have started his depredations when he was still at school here,” Flitwick’s face was hard when he looked up. “But if I ever find him, be sure that I will find out.”
Merrowynne nodded, grudgingly. “So, if he didn’t kill Myrtle, who did?”
“An evil bastard called Tom Riddle used a basilisk to do it,” a wispy voice asked. “Why do you want to know? And who are you, anyway?”
Merrowynne spun round, looking up into the face of Myrtle. “Oh my God…” then she rounded on Flitwick and this time the little professor did back away at her expression. “What did you bastards do to my aunt?”
Hermione and Iphigenia Granger were strolling through the passages of Hogwarts castle.
“So, Harry, eh?” Genie teased, expecting a vociferous denial and a near shouted ‘Honestly!’
What she did not expect was a thoughtful silence and a slight blush. Genie blinked. “Oh. Really Harry?”
“Is there something wrong with Harry? Other than he’s mooning after his foster sister?” Hermione asked acerbically.
“Foster sister?” Genie inquired.
“Luna Lovegood,” Hermione grumpily explained. “She lives with the Weasleys as well, the blonde with the silver eyes. And she’s a bloody Princess! And Ginny likes him, too, and her mum is Lady Margaret Prewett. And
half the girls in the school would want to date him if he just paid them the slightest bit of attention. I haven’t got a chance,” she finished on a near wail.
Genie put an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. “So. When did you realize it? That you fancied him?”
Hermione sighed. “When Fred and George… You know, just know. He was so adult and grown up when he took that box down without opening it…”
Genie grinned. “Well, you at least have one advantage, you’re his friend. He knows you.”
“Luna’s his friend too, and his sister. Ginny is as well,” Hermione pointed out, gloomily.
“Oh really? Since when do you give up so easily? I thought you were the one who helped him with his homework, was in his classes, and spent al lot of time with him. And as you are all at boarding school nine months out of every twelve, I’d say there was plenty of chances to drag him off to a corner for a quick snog. Plenty of cupboards.” Genie teased.
Hermione spluttered and blushed. “Genie! I-I oh, just honestly, just shut up about it!”
Genie grinned unrepentantly. “Sorry. Hey, we’re back at the Hall?”
“Yeah, most passages lead back here eventually,” Hermione looked around absently.
“I was expecting, you know, more of a ‘Hogwarts, a History’
tour…” Genie goaded.
Hermione groaned. “Mum and Dad told you about that? Honestly, I wish they’d stop!”
Genie sniggered and then gave Hermione a one armed hug. “They’re ever so proud of you, and they like to boast about how clever you are. They love you, Hermy,” she smiled at Hermione’s glare at the use of the endearment. Hermione hated people who shortened her name and would accept it only from those who she liked, loved the most.
“What’s that?” Genie distracted her cousin by pointing at the balcony overlooking the great hall, high up on the wall, lit by the rays of the winter sun.
“Hmm? That’s the High Mezzanine, you can’t get there except by the Forbidden Staircase,” Hermione responded absently, her eyes on where Harry was laughing with Ron.
“Forbidden? Why?” Genie asked, her curiosity piqued.
Hermione looked at the Mezzanine, the light of interest in her eyes. “I don’t know. It doesn’t say in Hogwarts, a History
. And it’s never mentioned by the Headmaster at the Opening Speech…” she gazed up at the Mezzanine and then far below it, to the beginning of the staircase that led to it. “Shall we go see?” she suggested daringly.
Genie looked at the tables and then nodded. “A bit of exercise will help us develop an appetite. Come on.”
They used the passage that ran around the hall, walked to the foot of the staircase that was accessed through an arch at the end of the great hall and went up between two walls, looking out from the many squat roman arched windows cut in the wall, landing after landing, passing a musicians’ gallery and a row of very dusty stands with hauberks and leather trousers and fierce visored helmets.
They talked softly as they mounted the stairs. Hermione looked out over the great hall and motioned at the teachers. “It’s strange seeing them like this. Normally they’re quite strict, not really human… and then they do things like coming and rescuing me, and you…” She looked at the hunched and crabbed figure of Severus Snape. “Honestly, why does he walk hunched over like that? And magic ought to be able to fix his teeth. I mean, I know that people can have jaws too small for all their teeth, especially with wisdom teeth too, but honestly!”
Genie sighed, and finally responded, wondering if she was doing the right thing by telling the younger girl. “Your Mum and Dad think his teeth are so bad and crooked because his jaws were broken when he was really young, and Dad thinks that his clavicles were broken and never properly healed. And his ribs. And maybe his pelvis. And certainly his nose.”
Hermione looked up at Iphigenia, her eyes wide and suddenly full of tears. “Oh God…”
Genie looked down at the tall, hunched figure in the black robes as he deliberately made his way to his chair, his stride measured and even, his robes billowing. “Mum says it’s a miracle he’s even as functional as he is right now, considering the way he was abused.”
Hermione shuddered. “Why didn’t anyone do anything? He was at school, they should have noticed!”
Genie shrugged. “I don’t know, I’m sorry. I can’t tell you, and I doubt anyone here will.”
Hermione looked down at the slim figure of Professor McGonagall and nodded determinedly. “I will most certainly ask. Oh, yes.”
“What are you doing here?” a shrill voice demanded from above.
Hermione and Iphigenia looked up to see Luna, wand out and aimed at them, her face set in lines of anger and grief, rising from where she had been sitting on a step in the shadow of the inner wall.
“Luna? What are you doing here? Are you alright?” Hermione asked, shocked at the younger girl’s appearance.
Luna barked out a bitter laugh. “No. Go away, this is my place.”
Iphigenia held out a hand. “I think you really should come with us, Luna. It is Luna? You shouldn’t be here alone.”
Luna laughed again, but now it was tinged with hysteria. “Alone? No, I should be at home with Maman and Daddy and we should be eating pudding! There shouldn’t be a ward on the front door so no-one can steal Maman’s notes or Daddy’s list of contacts. I shouldn’t be here! But this is my place and if I want to be alone here, I will be alone here! Go away!” the final words were shouted in a strangled sob.
Iphigenia took a cautious step up and closer to the blonde girl. “Luna, come down with us-”
Her words were cut short by Luna throwing herself bodily at her, catching Iphigenia in the middle and bearing her backwards. Iphigenia stumbled and the backs of her knees caught on the low sill of the window and with a terror-stricken face Hermione watched as her cousin and her friend fell over the edge and plummeted down towards the hard stone floor of the Hall. End note: Someone wanted to know who Albus had wronged by announcing her family. Here is the answer…