Chapter 3: Man and Beast
Disclaimer: Same as the first, plus Peter Pan created by J. M. Barrie.
Summary: Hermione during the final year of the war with Voldemort, and what she learns along the way.
"A beast does not know that he is a beast, and the nearer a man gets to being a beast, the less he knows it."
The next time Hermione saw Luna was at the wedding.
Ron's oldest brother, Bill, was marrying Fleur. Hermione wondered if this was really a good time for a wedding, given the war. The Weasleys were publicly known as enemies of Voldemort, and a wedding seemed to be an open invitation to a massacre. Still, the Weasleys insisted. Hermione suspected the reason for the rush was Bill and Fleur still slept in separate beds. She'd known Gryffindors were rather conservative from her interactions with the Weasleys. Who used terms like "scarlet woman" anymore? No wonder Gryffindors married so young.
Hermione, Harry, and Ron had already had a close call with Voldemort and his Death Eaters when the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore's personal army, escorted them from the home of Harry's aunt and uncle, where Harry had grown up. Harry's aunt and uncle hated witches and wizards, so it had been traumatic for Harry to grow up there, with them and their bullying, spoiled, son. Hermione thought such an upbringing left emotional scars on Harry just as much as Voldemort had left a physical one. She didn't think the damage was as bad as Luna did, though.
Dumbledore had insisted, despite everything, that Harry had to grow up there, due to some sort of blood magic protection Harry had received from his mother sacrificing her life for him, the magic that had caused Voldemort's earlier downfall when the killing curse meant for Harry backfired on him.
Still, Hermione wondered why someone with Dumbledore's power and resources couldn't find another way. She assured herself, though, that Albus Dumbledore was wise and good, and that whatever he decided was for the best. Harry followed Dumbledore without question, after all, and he was the one who suffered at the hands of his relatives. So, who was Hermione to question Dumbledore's goals or methods?
Hermione had made the final break from her own blood family. To protect them, she came up with an idea, and Professor McGonagall instructed her on how to do it. She magically altered her parents' memories, making them forget they had a daughter, making them forget who they even were. With the Order's help, they were relocated to the other side of the world, with magically created names and memories.
Hermione was glad she'd been distancing herself emotionally from her parents over the previous few years. That made what she had to do easier. She shook off the guilt she momentarily felt. It was, after all, for the greater good.
Luna arrived wearing a sun colored dress, matching her golden hair, which, in turn, was decorated with a large golden sunflower. Like so many times before, there was something familiar to Hermione about Luna, but, again like so many times before, she couldn't place it. Luna's father was with her, wearing matching colors.
So, this was the mysterious Xenophilus Lovegood that Luna was so devoted to, the publisher and editor of the Quibbler. He wasn't what Hermione was expecting. Of course, Hermione had no idea what to expect. He was, she observed, one of those people who seemed ageless. His hair was long and white, but his skin unwrinkled. He was also wearing a strange symbol, obviously mystical in origin, that angered Viktor Krum, a friend of Hermione's.
Harry had used a polyjuice potion to disguise himself, knowing that Death Eaters were hunting him. Luna recognized him, anyway.
Hermione and Luna chatted for a bit, discussing the gnome that had bitten Luna's finger.
"They're different in the Fairylands, you know," Luna told her.
"No, actually I didn't know, but I'd like to learn more," Hermione replied. While Hermione didn't believe most of the stories Luna told about strange creatures, she knew Luna would know about the Fairylands. Her mother was from one, after all. Luna had likely visited a few, herself.
"They're bigger, for one thing. Quite nasty in some of them. They're especially troublesome in Oz, for example..."
"Wrackspurt have you, Hermione?"
"You zoned out for a moment."
"Oh... I'm OK... I'm back."
"Good, because I'd hate for you to miss anything. Where were you, momentarily?"
"I'm not sure..."
Luna gazed deeply into Hermione's eyes, as if looking for something.
"Hmm..." she finally said. "I suspect you've fallen victim of a Ministry conspiracy."
"No, I'm sure I..."
"We'll talk, later, after the wedding."
They wouldn't have the opportunity, as it turned out.
The wedding ceremony itself went without a hitch. Hermione was concerned Ginny would cause problems. Not only was she jealous of Fleur's affect on Harry, but she was actually being jealous of Fleur's younger sister Gabrielle, afraid Harry would run off with her. Gabrielle was only 11, 12 at the most, hardly someone for Ginny to be concerned about.
Hermione noticed the wording in marriage ceremonies in the Wizarding world was different than what she was used to. It sounded a great deal like an Unbreakable Vow, which was fatal to those who took it and broke it. That explained the lack of divorces in the Wizarding world, Hermione though. She wondered if breaking from the muggle world completely had been a good idea, after all. Now, she couldn't insist on a muggle ceremony if she married Ron.
But, right after, the Death Eater attack Hermione had worried about finally came. They would have been there sooner, but they were tied up overrunning the Ministry of Magic and taking it over.
The Trio escaped, and searched for Voldemort's Horcruxes. Much happened during that, including learning that Godric Gryffindor's sword that Dumbledore had left to Harry in his will had been stolen by the Hogwarts founder from the goblins, who wanted it back. Harry promised to return it to them when he finished using it to destroy Horcruxes.
Dumbledore had left Hermione something, too. Ironically, it was a book of fairy tales. Hermione sighed. Of all the things to leave her...
It turned out have a purpose, though, something they learned from Xeno Lovegood. One of the stories was about objects called the Deathly Hallows, given to three brothers. They were the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand in the world; the Stone of Resurrection that had... well... the power of resurrection; and the Cloak of Invisibility, which was more powerful and longer lasting than most invisibility cloaks. Some believed the story to be based on truth. They called themselves Questers, and wore a symbol to identify themselves to each other, the symbol Xeno wore to the wedding. Viktor had mistaken it for a symbol representing the Dark Wizard Grindelwald because Grindelwald, being a Quester, had often used it.
So, the Trio began searching for the Hallows in addition to the Horcruxes. One ended up being far closer than they thought, the invisibility cloak Harry had inherited from his father. What an amazing coincidence, Hermione thought.
When she later mentioned that to Luna, Luna said there was no coincidence, only synchronicity.
They'd been reunited with Luna while captured by Death Eaters. They, along with Ginny's artist ex-boyfriend Dean Thomas, the wand maker Mr. Ollivander, and a goblin from Gringotts escaped and stayed for a while with Bill and Fleur at Shell Cottage, their home. Space being rather tight, Hermione and Luna shared a room, and a rather small bed, during their stay. Hermione wasn't comfortable, at first, with Luna's fondness for cuddling, but at least she convinced the girl to wear something to bed, since, Hermione quickly learned, Luna usually wore nothing to sleep. Fleur was far too amused with Hermione's discomfort when she was explaining the problem.
Still, it was nice having a girl as a friend that she could talk to. She'd spent her nights at the Burrow with Ginny, but Ginny wasn't much for conversation. Hermione loved Harry like a brother, but quickly tired of night after night, week after week, year after year, of Ginny just wanting to talk about the fabulous Boy Who Lived, and wanting advice on how to get him to notice her.
There was something she needed to ask Luna, though, remembering their conversation at the wedding, and the warning about Luna that Dumbledore had given her.
"Luna, this is a strange question, I know, and it might be a bit personal..." she began, one night.
"Someone... said something..."
"People say a lot."
"Yes, but... It was about you."
"All right... What do you want to know?"
"Are... you a Legilimens?"
"That would be the term Wizards use, I suppose," she finally answered.
"What do you mean?"
"I see it more as empathy. I got it from my mother's side of the family."
"Ah. You can just... naturally do it?"
"It's... not so much something I do, exactly..."
"You're not performing a spell, then?"
"No... It's a sense... Like seeing and hearing and touching... I thought everyone had it, until Daddy explained otherwise. I thought people were just being mean, not caring about others, until he explained that most people don't... feel what others feel. Daddy says that's not really an excuse for how people treat people a lot of the time, but I understood a little better."
"No, it's not an excuse. But, what you do is something we have to learn, and only witches and wizards can do it."
"But, it's magic. Muggles can't do magic."
"Everyone has at least some of what... we... call magic, Hermione. But one doesn't need to wave a wand or speak an incantation to show some sensitivity. One just needs to be more... open than most people allow themselves to be."
"That can get you hurt."
"Yes... But, one has to be open to pain if one is to be open to joy and beauty. Take Dean, for example... He's very sensitive, but don't tell him I said that," Luna said, smiling.
Hermione wondered why she'd never noticed that about Dean, until now. She suspected Ginny never noticed.
"But, the extent that you show it... It's a Fae thing?"
"It's a sense we've never lost, yes."
"Have you ever been to a Fairyland?" she asked Luna.
"Yes. Several. My mother's from one, you know."
"I heard. One close to the Burrow..."
"She lived in a few, actually. That's the one she settled in."
"How many are there?"
"A lot. Some are fairly new, like Wonderland."
"Wonderland?!! It's real?!!"
"Oh, yes. Didn't you know? I thought everyone knew about Wonderland."
"They do, but... I thought it was... fictional."
"The Ministry made certain that the muggles thought that, when they couldn't prevent it's existence becoming known."
"Ah... Is Neverland real, too?"
"Of course," Luna said, smiling. "That's where my first boyfriend was from."
"Your first boyfriend?" Surely, she couldn't be talking about...
"Oh yes. I was very young, at the time, of course. Wonderful boy, very heroic, always looking for adventure... But he just wouldn't grow up."
Luna paused, before continuing...
"Harry reminds me a lot of him."
Hermione noticed, after, that Luna and Dean had become rather close. She thought it strange, at first, the muggleborn Gryffindor football fan and Luna. But, she remembered, Dean was an artist, and Harry had told her that Luna was quite a gifted painter, herself. Dean was also a gentleman, and, despite how Harry and Ginny had treated him, held no grudge, even asking about Ginny's well being.
Eventually, the final battle with Voldemort came, and all the Hallows came into use. They were victorious, but not without cost. Many lives were lost, including one of Ron's brothers, Fred. They lost Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks, who'd just had a baby, a son they named Theodore, after his grandfather on his mother's side, who'd been lost to the war just months before. They'd asked Harry to be the baby's godfather.
Now, the boy was an orphan, just as Harry had been. At least Teddy still had his grandmother, who would raise him.
Molly didn't consider that an advantage for the boy.
It seemed the woman, Andromeda Black-Tonks, was rather notorious. There were all sorts of rumors...
Hermione remembered how, during the previous year, Nymphadora spent a lot of time at the Burrow, talking with Molly. Hermione wondered what was said between them. Whatever it was, Molly acted almost as a surrogate mother to Nymphadora, and now she was very insistent that Harry have a hand in raising Nymphadora's child.
"That boy will need you, Harry. He'll need us. He'll need a good influence," she told him.
"Isn't his grandmother one?" Harry asked.
"She's a Slytherin, Harry, and a Black."
"Sirius was a Black."
"Sirius was also a Gryffindor. Trust me, the apple didn't fall far from the tree in Andromeda's case."
"But she married a muggleborn."
"Yes... She didn't go for her family's views on blood. Pretty famous for disproving it, in fact. But... She's still a dark witch. Before she left the Blacks, she was taught by... Him."
No need to ask who "Him" was.
Harry had briefly experienced Death, himself, sort of. He even caught a glimpse of Voldemort's soul in the Afterlife... even though the Dark Lord wasn't dead, yet. Harry smiled as he described the malformed infant in pain that he saw. There was a great cheer from the victors...
...Except for Luna. She looked horrified.
Hermione had worried about what they would do once the war ended, if they survived. After all, she, Harry, and Ron were dropouts. There was nothing they would be qualified for.
She needn't have worried, she soon learned. Kingsley Shacklebot, Auror, Order member, and Gryffindor, had been placed in charge of rebuilding the Ministry. One of his first acts as Minister was to offer Harry and Ron a place in the Aurors, and Hermione a position as an Unspeakable in the Department of Mysteries, a last request of Albus Dumbledore that Kingsley was happy to oblige.
Hermione and Harry happily accepted. Ron, to everyone's surprise, did not. He decided that his brother George needed him more than the Aurors. While Fred's death had hit the Weasleys hard, George had been hit the hardest, since Fred was his twin. Ron would help George run the joke shop he and Fred had founded.
Ron surprised her even more with what he did next. He proposed. Hermione surprised herself by immediately accepting.
Harry was thrilled when she told him the news.
"That's great!" he said. "We can have a double wedding!"
What? Who was Harry marrying?
"It'll be great, you and Ron, and me and Ginny... We'll be Weasleys, really part of this big family, what I've always wanted!"
"Wait... Harry, back up a bit... You're marrying Ginny?!!!"
"Harry, are you sure? You barely know each other..."
"What do you mean? We were snogging for weeks, last year!"
"OK Harry... If you know her so well, name some of her friends."
"Oh, come on... There's you, and Neville, and Luna..."
"We're YOUR friends, Harry. She just knows us because of you and Ron!"
"I wouldn't call Luna much of a friend, these days..."
"How can you say that?"
"She's giving me a hard time... She's saying I shouldn't use Unforgivables... And, you saw her reaction when I said what happened to Voldemort's soul."
"Luna's sensitive, OK?"
"Too sensitive... I crucioed a Death Eater. What's the big deal?"
The Cruciatus Curse, one of the three Unforgivable Curses, considered so dark that their use can get one thrown in Azkaban Prison. She'd seen Harry use the Imperius Curse, which controlled others, but there were circumstances, there. He'd never used the Killing Curse, but others on their side did, including Molly. But McGonagall had told them to do it, regardless of the damage it does to one's soul. She wondered what the circumstances were for Harry using the Cruciatus Curse, which is solely for torture, and slowly drives it's victims insane.
"Ah... Why'd you do that?" she asked.
"He SPAT at Professor McGonagall! So I HAD to crucio him! Professor McGonagall told me I was gallant for using it. But Luna... She just told me it was wrong! That it wasn't necessary!" He continued, in a mocking imitation of Luna's dreamy way of speaking, "A stunner would have served just as well, Harry, and there wouldn't have been all that screaming and thrashing about... There's a reason they're called Unforgivables, Harry... You have to enjoy torturing people for a Crucio to work, Harry..."
"That's... true, actually..."
"OK, so I enjoyed it! Who does she think she is to judge ME? I'M the Chosen One! Thank God I have Ginny... She's not upset about poor Voldemort and the Death Eaters. She's strong. She's not sappy and emotional like Luna and Cho..."
"Luna's one of the strongest people I know. You even thought she could handle Azkaban and the dementors... She even saved YOU from dementors, remember?"
"Look, forget about Luna... I'm just glad I found Ginny. She never questions me, never judges me... And, she gives me such a good time..."
"Harry... Marriage is a commitment, not just having a good time. Are you sure you really love Ginny?"
"Of course, I'm sure! She's hot! She's the most popular girl in school! And the way she kisses... And she's a Weasley! She'll have a perfect dinner waiting for me when I get home from a long day at the Ministry, just like her mom... And we'll have lots of kids..."
Hermione finally understood why she fell for Ron instead of Harry.
"She has another year at Hogwarts, Harry. Ron and I... We want to get married before she's out."
"What's she need another year at Hogwarts for? It's not like she'll ever need to work. I'm rich."
"Did she know you planned for her to drop out when you proposed? When did you propose, anyway?"
"I haven't, yet. I need you to help me pick a ring... I don't know about this stuff, but you're a girl..."
"Harry, I can't BELIEVE you, right now!"
"Don't start sounding like Luna, Hermione," he said, warningly.
What had gotten into him? And when?
Hermione loved Harry like a brother, but she dearly hoped Ginny would tell him where to stick his proposal. Ginny disappointed her, there. Hermione wished she could say she was surprised.
The big event came. Everyone was invited. Luna didn't show. Neither did Dean.
After the Honeymoon, Hermione went to see Luna, to ask her why.
"Harry didn't want me there. Neither did Ginny. And her mother... Dean decided if I wasn't welcome, he wasn't."
Hermione couldn't believe it. After all they'd been through together...
"You and Harry..." Hermione began, trying to understand... "You had a bond. I saw it. Everyone saw it."
"Yes," Luna said, sadly. "For a time, yes."
"You could reach him when no one else could, not even me. And, he understood you..."
"Yes, for a time."
"What happened? What did I miss?"
"I believe the muggle term would be that he started believing his own press."
"What?!! Harry's always been too humble for that."
"Until the last couple of years, yes he was. He had so little faith in himself. He found it, but I'm afraid he went a bit overboard with it... When the Prophet started calling him the Chosen One, and he became what the muggles call the Big Man On Campus... When everyone was telling him how wonderful and good he was, no matter what he did..."
"He IS wonderful and good... Usually..."
"But, he doesn't recognize your 'usually'. He thinks everything he does is OK, even if it's something he condemns when others do it."
Hermione wanted to protest, but... She remembered Harry's reaction in their sixth year at Hogwarts when she and Ron were upset with him for, in a moment of utter ignorance and stupidity, using a dark curse on Draco Malfoy that carved him up and nearly killed him. Professor Snape gave him Detention. Harry thought it was such an unfair punishment because he wouldn't be able to play Quidditch for Gryffindor. He'd nearly killed a fellow student, and would have been in much worse trouble if Snape hadn't arrived in time to save Draco's life, and he was upset because he'd miss a Quidditch match.
Ginny tore into her and Ron for daring to criticize Harry.
Hermione remembered what Dumbledore had told her about some being the Elect, that the actions of the Elect were not to be judged as they would be for those not part of the Elect.
"I worry about him," Luna said, sadly. "He has so much in common with Tom Riddle, and..."
Tom Riddle... the boy who became Lord Voldemort.
"Luna... Harry will never be like that. I know he can be... unkind, as you would say... But, everything he's done... He KNOWS he has a lot in common with Voldemort. He used to worry about it... But, he's used that to guide himself, to NOT be like him..."
"Hermione... Remember when I told you that the truth is often found in fairy tales?"
"Yes, and the Deathly Hallows proved it."
"It's usually a little less... direct than that. Sometimes you have to look for the higher truth in the story. I'm going to tell you a fairy tale. It was told to me by my father and godmother. I call it... 'How the Crumple-Horned Snorkack Got It's Name'..."