Chapter 9: The Black Tower
Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.
Chapter 9: The Black Tower.
Sunday 23rd June, 1996.
Harry watched his head of house as she touched her wand to a ring she wore with the Gryffindor coat of arms, and said "Portus!" The ring glowed blue for a moment and satisfied with her spell work she called to Moody.
"Alastor, you'll need to come with me for the first hop. I can't be here when you cast the Obliviate."
She looked over at the student and meeting his eyes, she gave him a brief smile before she and Moody apparated away with a distinctive pop.
Harry stretched out and leaned his head on the back of the sofa he was sitting on, staring at the ceiling and trying to calm his thoughts. He'd barely begun when he heard the pop of Moody returning and he looked up, alert again.
"It's done. She's on her way." Moody said to the room in general.
Harry leaned back again, and after letting out a breath he didn't know he'd held at Moody's return, he closed his eyes and went back to trying to process recent events.
"She'll be fine, Harry, you don't have to worry about her." He heard Luna say.
He opened his eyes, only to see her looking down at him. She was standing behind the low sofa, and so appeared to be upside down from his perspective. He smiled at her in appreciation for her reassurance, and closed his eyes again.
A moment later he felt someone sit down next to him and claim his left arm. 'Luna' he thought, and squeezed the hand now holding his own. The low buzz of conversation was drifting over from elsewhere in the room, though he didn't pay it much attention.
More relaxed now, he thought back to the last time he felt like he'd been keeping up with the events going on around him today. While certainly a day that he'd remember for some time to come, he hadn't really felt as though he'd fallen down the rabbit hole until seeing Luna sitting on her trunk at Privet Drive.
He smiled at the thought of Luna dressed as Alice and wearing a frilly white apron, but couldn't help but grin insanely as he imagined Luna's dad wearing a top hat. He was perfect for the role as the Mad Hatter. For all he knew maybe the Knight Bus had travelled through the Looking Glass on the way from Privet Drive to here.
If anyone had asked Harry Potter what he thought Luna's home looked like, he'd have simply shrugged his reply. After all, he never sat around thinking about what people's houses might look like, nor did he ask them.
On the other hand, if he'd been given a sheet of parchment and assigned the question as homework, his professors would probably have returned it to him graded at least Exceeds Expectations, possibly even an Outstanding if he'd correctly guessed that her house looked like a black tower.
'The house was just so…Luna!' He'd thought to himself once he'd been shown around it.
After getting off the Knight bus, he and Luna had walked along the twisty path leading to the Lovegoods' front door.
Reading the signs, he'd picked some mistletoe, and made a note to avoid stepping on any dirigible plums. As he had no idea what a dirigible plum was, he'd just resolved to keep off just about everything.
Luna had led the way into the circular black building and he'd found himself, unsurprisingly, in a large circular room. It was a kitchen, and every appliance and surface was covered with pictures of flowers, insects and birds painted in bright colours that assaulted his vision and seemed to say quite clearly; 'wake up and live happy!'
She'd shown him the rest of her house, then left him to sit and relax in the cluttered living room while she disappeared downstairs.
When she didn't return after a while, he descended the stairs back into the kitchen in search of her.
While not perfect, his timing was fortunate as Luna was just coming in the back door. She was struggling with a huge basket of vegetables which showed the obvious signs of having just been collected from her garden.
He rushed over and helped her lift the basket onto the kitchen counter. "You should have asked me to help" he chided her gently.
"You're right, I'm sorry Harry," she replied, surprising him. He'd more-or-less expected to be told that she could manage by herself or something like that. That she would recognise that it made sense for him to help, being larger and stronger, never really occurred to him. He resolved to try and pay more attention to what he said around her.
Luna set a large pot of water to start heating on the stove, and deftly threw in various herbs and spices. Taking his cue from her, Harry began washing, peeling and cutting vegetables for what looked to be enough vegetable soup to feed a small army.
Luna meanwhile had started preparing dough to bake some fresh bread, and as Harry watched her from the corner of his eye, he revised his opinion about being stronger. He'd made enough bread to know how tiring kneading could get, and Luna was attacking it like a professional.
Seeing that he'd finished with the vegetables, she floured another section of the counter, and set him to work on some bread dough of his own.
He was getting into the rhythm of it, working quietly alongside Luna when he heard her say "hello. Hermione. Would you like to make some bread too? You can tell us all about Plan C at the same time."
Harry looked up and over to the front door as soon as Luna had mentioned Hermione's name, and was now gaping a little at the sight of her standing there.
Hermione in turn had looked a little amused at the domestic scene she'd walked in on, courtesy of an open front door. When Luna mentioned 'Plan C' though, she re-evaluated her new friend's intelligence upwards yet again. Luna truly deserved to be a Ravenclaw.
Grinning at their flour coated hands and forearms, she walked over and gave them each a partial-hug from behind and greeted them properly.
After washing her hands at the sink, she walked around to the other side of the island counter they were working at, and started kneading the dough Luna had pushed over to her.
Luna herself started working on a different pastry, and Harry's experienced eye guessed she was going to be making a fruit pie or two.
"I'm not sure where to really start…" Hermione began. "Harry, I know Luna was going to take you with them to Sweden, but it seems that conversation you had with Professor McGonagall has had some, umm, unexpected results."
Harry grimaced. He knew it was too good to be true.
"Oh no, Harry, you're still going with Luna if that's what you were thinking. It's just that you might have a little more company on the trip – if that's alright with you both," she said a little nervously, before adding "and your father as well, Luna."
Luna let out a little squeal of delight, and ignoring her sticky hands, ran around the counter to hug Hermione.
"That would be wonderful, Hermione. I can't believe I'll have both my new best friends on holiday with me!" she exclaimed happily.
Hermione cleared her throat nervously. "There's more. Some other people would like to join us as well; my parents, and…" she trailed off and looked over at Harry, not really knowing how to continue.
Harry looked at her, "Hermione, you're just the messenger, right?" She nodded. "Well then," he continued, "I'm not about to hex the messenger. What's got you so nervous?"
Hermione looked down at her dough. She really wished they could be sitting down for this.
Luna grabbed a couple of bowls and tea towels and handed them to the others. "Let's sit down and have a chat while we let the dough rise" she said, throwing a tea towel over the pastry she'd started to keep it from drying out too much.
A few minutes later, they were sitting with clean hands on some chairs in the living room.
"Harry, Professor McGonagall came to visit me with Tonks, Professor Lupin and Professor Moody. They'd been sent by Dumbledore to the Dursleys to check up on you. Professor McGonagall said that she'd obliviated the Dursleys of you and Luna, so that Dumbledore wouldn't be able to find out where you were."
Harry looked shocked. "She did that?"
"There's more Harry. Professor McGonagall said that she'd looked into all of the things you'd told her, and…and…"
Harry moved over to sit next to Hermione. Whatever his friend was trying to say was upsetting her.
"Harry," she almost whispered, "are you really the one that has to fight V-Voldemort?"
Harry closed his eyes and then lowered his head. He hadn't wanted to tell his friends, but that choice had been taken out of his hands. He looked up at her watery eyes and nodded.
"Harry, would…would you tell us the prophecy please?" she asked.
He didn't need a pensieve for this. The words had burned into his memory when he'd heard them in Dumbledore's office just over a week ago. He nodded, and then recited the prophecy.
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches, born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies… and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not… and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives… the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…"
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione said, then sobbed into his chest as she wrapped him in a hug, as though determined to hold him there and prevent him from going off to challenge Voldemort.
He started stroking her hair and trying to shush her, then looked over her head to see how Luna was taking the news on the other sofa. She smiled at him serenely, and didn't seem surprised by what she'd just heard.
Hermione eventually calmed down, and started berating herself for losing control again. "I'm sorry, Harry, I really thought I had prepared myself for this, but… it's just… why did it have to be you?"
Harry smiled wryly. "Yeah, it does seem I get more than my fair share doesn't it? Anyway, there was another child that prophecy could have referred to… at first anyway."
Hermione looked at him, with a slight wrinkle in her forehead.
"Neville was the other one." Luna said, her tone not making it clear whether that was a question or an answer.
Harry nodded. "Yeah, up until he gave me this scar, it could have been Neville."
They all sat quietly with their thoughts for a while, before Hermione broke the silence.
"Umm, Harry, Professor McGonagall said that she wanted to train you. Tonks, and Professors Lupin and Moody want to help too. Professor Flitwick may join us as well, but they haven't had a chance to talk to him yet."
Harry thought about that for a minute. It was what he wanted wasn't it? Something didn't quite add up though.
"So…how can I still be going to Sweden then if I'm going to be training with them?"
Hermione looked at him as though surprised at the question, then reminded herself that Harry was used to things going wrong for him.
She smiled. "They'll be coming with us to Sweden to train us of course."
Harry frowned. "Train us?"
Hermione had expected his likely reaction, and had prepared her response well in advance. She glared at him. "Harry James Potter! I do hope you aren't planning on hogging this wonderful opportunity for training all to yourself! I thought we were your friends? Don't you want us to be able to defend ourselves if we need to?"
He rushed to reassure her that of course they were, and during his hasty hug in apology, she looked over at Luna and winked at her, and received a wink back in return.
"Harry, I need to floo Professor McGonagall now so that she and the others can come over and discuss all of this with you. Is that alright? Is there anything else you'd like to talk about before I do?"
He looked over at Luna, who shook her head, then turned back to Hermione. "No, I can't think of anything at the moment. Make your floo call."
Not long afterwards, the kitchen was full of people. In addition to the three teens and the four order members, Hermione's parents had been brought along with them.
After everyone had been greeted, and Tonks and Moody were introduced to Luna, she started to make tea for everyone. Hermione and Emma helped, and then the three of them finished off preparing the bread and pies, and put them in the oven. Dan joined Harry and the order members at the kitchen table.
"Well, Harry, I suppose we should start by asking if you have any questions for us?" Remus asked.
Harry nodded "Yeah, I do, but I don't really know where to start. Up until a little while ago, I thought I was just going to be following Luna and her dad around Sweden looking for Snorkacks, and now it looks as though I'm going to be spending my time training instead."
Moody has already started nodding when Luna's voice called out from the nearby counter. "Not quite, Harry. We're going to be doing both. As much as you need to train, you need a chance to relax even more. So I think we'll start with perhaps an hour or two of training in the mornings, and maybe 3 hours after dinner."
She tilted her head a little as though considering whether that plan was acceptable or not. "Yes, that should work out fine to start. We can look at it again in a week or two. If you've been having enough fun by then we can look at some more time for training." She concluded her declaration with a nod, as though that settled the matter.
Everyone in the room had turned to listen to her, and by the time she had finished there were smirks on the faces of Tonks, Lupin and Dan, and smiles on Hermione's and Minerva's. Emma's expression seemed calculating, while Harry's seemed to flick between amused and surprised.
Moody on the other hand did not seem pleased at all. "Now listen here, girlie, we've got to…"
Minerva interrupted him. "Alastor… it is Harry's decision to make. We are here to offer him our help, not direct how he will spend his summer holiday. I, for one; like Luna's plan."
Harry cleared his throat, and looked around at everyone, then at Luna and smiled at her in appreciation of her standing up for him. "Yeah, I'd like to try Luna's plan to start with and see how it goes."
Alastor started grumbling under his breath at this, and Luna's voice called out again. "Oh, don't worry Mr Moody. No plan survives contact with the enemy."
Moody stared at her with both eyes for a moment, before he started laughing.
When he calmed down he gave Luna an appraising look, then asked "Do you want to tell me how you knew that quotation little lady?"
Luna replied calmly, "At the end of my third year, Harry told everyone that Voldemort had returned. I knew then that we were going to war, and I wanted to know how to do it properly. So I started studying over that summer. I was so glad when Harry started teaching us Defence in the DA this year. We wasted so much time in class with Professor Umbridge, and we really couldn't afford it."
Moody looked at her for a moment, then got up and walked over to her, and extended his hand, which she took. "It's a real pleasure to meet you, Luna," he said, shaking her hand.
He turned to Harry. "You have two excellent friends there, Potter" indicating both Luna and Hermione with nods. "You will take very good care of them, or I will be using you for target practice. Frequently!"
Harry nodded. He had no intention of doing anything else, so it didn't really need saying as far as he was concerned.
"Harry, hand me your wand for a moment please?" Moody asked him.
He did so, and watched as Moody and cast a complicated charm on it using his own wand. Harry watched his Holly wand glow briefly at the end, and then Moody handed it back to him. "There, you won't be seeing any more owls from your friend, Madam Hopkirk. Just don't go casting spells where others might decide to report you though. It's not hard to put the trace back on again."
Harry started to stammer his thanks, but Moody had already turned to the girls to ask for their wands. Once he had cleared each of them of the trace he handed them back to their owners and then turned to listen to McGonagall.
"Harry, I'm going to need to see Professor Dumbledore soon, as he'll have been expecting a report some time ago now. I have no intention of letting him know where you are now, and I will attempt to mislead him as to your intentions. However, we do need to discuss contingency plans in case I cannot convince him to stop meddling in your affairs."
She cleared her throat and then paused, trying to decide how to ask the next question.
"How do you feel about continuing your education overseas or with private tutors if it should become necessary? I believe more than anything else, that the threat of you leaving, perhaps with your closest friends, would get him to agree to work with you, rather than expect you to work at his direction."
Harry blinked, and struggled with the thought. Being given a choice in what he wanted to do was not something he had much practice in.
Unfortunately for him, this was not even one of the hardest questions that Minerva asked him before she left to meet with Dumbledore.