“Good morning, lightning boy!” Fury greeted the yawning Harry with a cheerful voice, him yawning and barely conscious in front of her. “One hour, I have you for before breakfast. Today, we run! You follow me now.” Fury took off, the colt of her mare wheeling to run with her. When Harry didn’t follow immediately, the mare bared ugly yellow teeth at him and snapped at his shoulders with serious intent to hurt him quite badly if he didn’t start after Fury. He ran after that, struggling to keep up with the lean figure in front of him as the mare trotted along behind. As they passed the Forbidden Forest, two wolves came and loped along with the warrior, one white, one black.
Harry faltered and nearly fell back for a few moments, but the low whicker behind him warned him to keep up. The wolves continued on with the group until the edge of the Forbidden Forest fell away, then they peeled off and disappeared back into the undergrowth. A rabbit screamed and Harry winced, sweat running down his face and hating the woman in front of him. He was about ready to drop and she was barely even breathing hard! But if this was what it took to finally defeat Voldemort...Harry pushed himself harder grimly, determined to keep up.
On the second lap around the castle, Draco was leaning against the wall near the front steps, calmly drinking coffee and chatting with Blaise. Fury ignored the Slytherins but Blaise’s wolfwhistle made her grin in amusement. When she finished the run with Harry, she bent to the long grass and picked up her own sword before throwing him another. It was serviceable and blunt looking, a weapon strictly for killing, no fancy work required. Lifting her sword to her face, she kissed the pommel, then twisted it in her hands while Harry was still studying his.
“Defend yourself, boy!”
He barely managed to bring the blade in his hands up in time to avoid the strike coming at his head, gaping at her slightly as the iron shuddered in his hands. She could have killed him with that blow, if he hadn’t reacted! Slowly, she started to circle him, eyes on him like a wolf’s watching the deer. A young deer, without the lethal rack of antlers she would have to be wary of, but just in case...circling warily
“I said, defend yourself and FIGHT! I don’t play games, little warrior to be!” Slashed out again and again, Harry clumsily blocked with the ugly bonebreaker of a sword in his hands. “Are you just going to stand there?!”
He lunged and she skipped out of the way, elegantly lethal in her movements and tripped him, sending him sprawling into the dirt.
“I’m too late, really, to turn you into a proper swordman, boy,” she told him, point of her sword resting at the base of his skull. Harry felt the first warm trickle of blood go down, mouth open on grass and tasting dirt. Couldn’t even move to spit it out as the bare heel of her foot kicked him contemptuously in the side. “But I’ll teach you how to wield the truly beautiful sword the Lion wore, and maybe he won’t turn over in his grave with shame for how you handle it. Your reflexes are good, but you need to stop *thinking* so much. That’ll get you killed.” She took the sword away slowly. “Lesson’s over for the morning, puppy. Go and be a wizard now.” Harry got to his feet, spitting grass out of his mouth and glaring at her sullenly. She just turned her back on him, then tossed back over her shoulder: “Wear the sword all the time, now you’ve got it. Get used to the weight. The armour comes next.”
Draco and Blaise basked in the sun like the snakes their house was best known for, sipping coffee and chatting as Fury drifted over, curious to see what exactly they were doing. “Morning,” Blaise chirped cheerfully. “Good run?”
“Well enough,” Fury said, leaning on the edge of the railing that led up the stiars and watching them bother with inscrutable eyes. “And yourselves?”
“Well enough,” Draco said softly. “It’s interesting to see someone like you about.”
“Oh, we’ve been here all the time, little wizard,” Fury said to him, tilting her head and giving him a sly look from out of her dark eyes. “We’re just waking up now. I’ve been asleep or wandering for a very long while, my family gone into the embrace of the earth and many a year I’ve spent a-journey all alone. But now I have my heir, and perhaps in a few tens of years, I can rest.”
“What...are you going to do with Luna?” Blaise inquired cautiously. She rather liked the eccentric Ravenclaw, it was a quiet and subtle friendship found in the pages of books and written in spills of black ink. For a Slytherin, Blaise was inordinately interested in learning. “I mean...”
“I’m not going to hurt her, little bird,” Fury told her. “She will not age much from this point on, just as I have not. I will teach her the things she must know, and I will keep her company for a while after that. And then I will quietly and peacefully go to rest.” She reached out to touch Blaise’s hair, marveling inwardly at the silky softness of the civilized girl’s hair. “And in time, she will find one to follow after her. And on, and on it goes. One maiden after the other.”
“Does she have to be...exactly like you?” Draco asked.
“She will be herself,” Fury said firmly. “What else could anyone be? It would be foolish to make her over into a copy of me, like writing out a spell on parchment. She is human, is she not? Two of anything are never exactly the same, no matter how similar they are. She will be a warrior in her own way, and she will find her own way across the winding paths.”
“Lovely piece of philosophizing for the morning hour, Fury,” Blaise noted, finishing the last sip of coffee in her cup. She unfolded her slim legs and blinked coquettishly at the warrior woman, who smiled back with her own edge of predatory enjoyment. “For once we better do as Potter does and skip off merrily to class and learning.”
“Ah, good point,” Draco said after a look at his watch. “It’s been interesting, Fury.”
“No need to gloss over the outside with whitewash, little dragon,” Fury said with cool amusement. “You just wanted to see the lightning boy get beaten. Pick up a sword, if you would, and then we see how alpha you remain.”
“I might surprise you,” Draco told her as he descended gracefully from the ledge of stone near the stairs down onto the ground. Blaise giggled slightly and lifted her cup before standing on the ledge and skipping back up to the top of the staircase. “What have we got first off, Blaise?”
“Well, better not be late for *that*…”
The two Slytherins moved off together, walking with the same casual grace that cats employed on a daily basis. There was something more flighty in Blaise’s movements, little flutterings of her fingers to illustrate her spoken points. Draco was more solid, quietly menacing but at the same time...shallow. Or so it seemed. Fury licked her lips lightly, and tapped her fingertips against the hilt of her sword.
Interesting times, indeed.
Her mare snorted and pushed her heavy head underneath Fury’s arm, displeased at being ignored in favour of these humans. With a soft click of her tongue, the Amazon ran her hand down the side of the horse’s jaw and scratched at an itchy spot before pulling on her ears lightly.
“Come then, sister. I’ll currycomb your coat and we’ll spend the day together getting your son ready for my successor.”
Slowly, the two walked off into the forest together and somehow indivisible, woman and horse. The colt bucked and whickered before racing off ahead of them, bright coat gleaming in the sun and the charms in his mane jangling with every bouncing step. And then the trio were gone, vanished like the older times they represented.
Ancient things had a way of resurfacing. No matter who they hurt in the process. Old times. Old things. Old truths. Coming back to remind those who had forgotten, just how truly powerful they were.
Luna could hear the whispers every time she turned her head to look away, people feeling braver when her now bare eyes weren’t focused on them. Not having to wear her glasses was great, but if this was what happened because of it...she’d almost rather have the glasses again. But the drums were buzzing in her head, beating and thumping. Making her skin itch like she was about to burst out of it, newborn and naked. A chrysalis of skin and old thinking, wrapped around her tight. Tight. And now she had all these new things in her head and they fizzed most spectacularly.
Remember the way it feels to hold a sword, ride a horse, scream out and not care who looks to see because what you are is beauty and power. Remember. This is what you are, carved deep over your bones.
She’d have to write her dad, obviously. Or...maybe not. He’d make it into something for the Quibbler, and that didn’t seem right somehow. Wishing that she could keep it in close and tight to her chest and examine it under the sheets of her bed with the aid of a light spell in a metaphorical fashion wasn’t going to change the fact that the entire school was talking about it though. And they shouldn’t be, because it was hers. All hers and they shouldn’t be talking about it!
Luna’s lips peeled back from her teeth in a snarl, and she tucked her chin in closer to her chest to hide it. She felt stronger, wilder. Meaner. Like she could take on an army and win. But at the same time she couldn’t even face the whispers that were writhing along in the wake of her footsteps like maggots. White and sick. Devouring little mouths, and she wasn’t dead yet so she didn’t understand why they were talking about her like she was. She was alive! Alive! Probably more so then she’d been in years. Hearing the blood beat through her veins, and the beat underneath that of the whole living world, she couldn’t believe that they were talking about her like something bad and horrible had happened. She had been awoken. In so many more ways then one. Healed. There had been something missing in her but now it had been slotted into a place, a piece of bloodstained steel. Harsh. Uncompromising. There was honor in it.
Honor in her, and now she knew her place. What if Fury hadn’t found her? What would have happened? To walk until her death not knowing this? Unthinkable! She would have died inside, while her body kept walking until true death ceased it. But she had it now. Shining deep and bright inside her, whispering of secrets and ages past. Burning her blood to a pure red hot, until she just wanted to break and run. Toss her head and race the sun’s rays across the earth, knowing that at her side another’s four hooves would beat an echoing tattoo. Both in tune. Inseparable in rhythm, two steps to four hoof beats. A perfect music, timeless in its way and hers.
There were so few things she had that were truly hers.
Sacred and private.
And this which should have been private and most sacred, a Holy of Holies, inviolate...it was broken open for the slavering masses to drool over. She hated that fact so much. It made her palm and fingers itch. Like there was some weapon she should be able to pick up and fight with, strike back against the whispering mouths and prying eyes. Couldn’t they just leave her alone? She knew all their secrets. Everyone’s. No one really paid attention to loony Luna, the crazy girl with the father who ran a tabloid newspaper. The Quibbler wasn’t anywhere in the realms of the Daily Prophet, no matter how gossipy that publication got at times.
Though it seemed to have quieted down since Rita Skeeter had been removed from the journalistic staff. Good. She’d never liked that woman. She liked to finger other people’s dirty laundry between her fingertips and then spread it out for everyone else to look at. Every stain and smear on a person’s character. Without ever looking at her own. At least the Quibbler mainly dealt in things no one would believe. The Daily Prophet...when it went after someone, it left a mark. A visible dent. No one believed the Quibbler. They read it, they laughed at it, and then they moved on.
Sitting through class in a daze, Luna’s eyes shone with the light of something far away and distant.
She was miles away, riding like the wind over a field of grass with the sun on her back and a steady horse underneath her. She wasn’t going anywhere in particular, she was just running. That was the important thing.