"The moment of truth," Ron said to Harry as he woke up the following morning. It took Harry a few moments to figure out what Ron was talking about, but when it hit, he felt horrible. "If we win, everything will be fine...but if we lose, everyone will say it's because you picked your friends."
Harry nodded slowly, putting on his glasses. "We will win," he said firmly. "The girls are amazing Chasers, Phelan and Adam are as good as Fred and George were, and I've got the best Keeper in the school watching the goal posts for me." Ron blushed, but Harry smiled. "We can do this, Ron."
Ron nodded. "Yeah, but we're playing Slytherin. They don't fight fair, Harry."
"So what?" Harry shrugged. "We play our game and flatten them. There's nothing else to it."
"I hope you're right," Phelan said behind him. The boy was rather pale, but he didn't look sickly as most players did before their first game. Of course, given what the boy had taken in the past couple of weeks, Quidditch was nothing.
Harry, Ron and Phelan went downstairs, where they met Adam, Ginny and Desdemona in the common room. "Where's Pandora?" Harry asked.
Ginny shrugged. "She said something about going to see Emberlynn L'Aramanthe."
"Huh?" Harry asked.
"That new French girl," Phelan said. "Remember? The one Adam cracks jokes about all the time. She's in Ravenclaw. She's kind of our cousin."
"Oh yeah," Harry said. He had no classes with the girl as she was a year below him, and he didn't take Arithmancy with Professor Darkheart, so he often forgot about the new additions to the school. "So that's where she's been sneaking off to lately?"
Phelan nodded. "Mum wants us to help her out. She said Emberlynn was having a hard time adjusting to the new environment, but Pandi is handling it all now."
"She's a brat," Phelan said, looking at Harry as if the answer was painfully obvious. "I can't stand being around her, but Pandi can...so she does it."
"Her mum is nice," Adam said. "Ed takes Arithmancy, and I got to talk to her one day when I was waiting for him to get out. She was pretty cool."
"Not as cool as Phoenix, though," Ron laughed.
Adam smirked. "Phoenix can't be touched where she is on the favorites list, but her sister is still cool. She was going to give Ed a detention for mouthing off to someone, but she let him off because he did so well on his test."
"You just like her because she doesn't sound French," Desdemona laughed. "Admit it!"
Adam sighed dramatically. "Okay, you got me."
The others laughed and made their way down to the Great Hall. It was a Saturday, so usually not everyone was up, but they were surprised to find most of the school awake.
"Oh that's right," Ron said. "People are submitting their names for the tournament today."
"Really?" Adam asked, looking around. "Where do you turn it in again?"
"Why?" Harry asked. "You're going to do it?"
Adam nodded. "Yeah. You?"
Harry laughed and shook his head. "No. I've got enough to deal with this year. Let someone else have the glory this time."
"Now, now...that doesn't sound like my godson!"
They turned around to see Sirius and Remus standing behind them, both laughing. "Hey!" Harry said, smiling. "You two here for the match?"
"Of course," Sirius said, ruffling up Harry's hair. "I always come, don't I?"
"And I couldn't miss it, either," Remus said. "Pandora made me promise I'd come. She's as bad as her mother..."
Remus turned to come face-to-face with Phoenix. James was standing behind her, laughing. "I mean, she's as beautiful, talented and charming--"
"Outside, please," Phoenix said, turning to walk from the Great Hall. Remus followed her without a word, but James cackled louder.
"Never gets old, that," Sirius said, wiping a tear of joy from his eye. "Anyway...good luck, you lot. See you after the match!"
"Bye Sirius!" they called after him. The black-haired man trotted up to the front table and whispered something to Dumbledore, then turned and left with James. Harry watched them go, then smiled as Pandora came into the Great Hall and joined the rest of the team. Hermione trailed in behind her.
"The Slytherins are unusually happy this morning," the bushy-haired girl told them. "So be on your guard, okay?"
Harry nodded. "They want to make me look bad. It wont work."
"Of course not," Desdemona said with a smirk. "You have us."
Harry grinned. After breakfast, they made their way down to the pitch to put on their gear and warm up. Harry gave them a quick talk as the stands were filling with people, but nothing calmed their nerves. "I wouldn't want to be playing with anyone else," he said to them as they walked out to enter the Quidditch Pitch. The girls smiled. Adam and Phelan gave Harry a nod. Ron made an odd noise, but patted Harry on the shoulder in acknowledgement.
"Here comes Gryffindor!" called Seamus Finnigan, the announcer for today's game. "Weasley! Gryffindor! Lupin! Smethwyck! Lupin! Weasley! And Potter!"
The seven flew into the pitch, flying in a full circle while holding formation. The Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws cheered. The Gryffindor section roared with cheers and applause. As they flew past the Slytherins, though, the crowd let out one long howl.
"Not again," Harry growled, preparing to turn his broom around. He looked over his shoulder at Phelan. He felt horrible every time he had to witness the mingled look of sadness and fear crossing his friend's face. He faced forward again and sped on, even more determined to flatten Slytherin.
"Everyone's eager to see how good Potter's team is this year, as he picked all of his friends for the open Chaser and Beater positions," Seamus announced. Harry rolled his eyes. The team pulled to the middle, circling there with the Slytherins.
"Don't listen to him," Desdemona said beside him. Harry looked at her, blinking a few times. Her hair had turned from blond to red, and her usual brown eyes were now gold. She smirked at him and he smiled in return.
"Give them hell," he said, looking from Desdemona to Ginny, then finally to Pandora.
"You don't have to ask," Pandora said with a smirk. Her eyes settled on Sebastian Lestrange, who had been picked as a Chaser by the Slytherin Captain, Draco Malfoy.
"Crabbe and Goyle," Adam smirked, looking at Phelan. "Think we can take 'em?" Phelan gave a sinister smirk.
"I want a clean game!" Madam Hooch called, though the look on her face told them that she knew she wasn't going to get one. The whistle sounded and the balls flew upward. The game had begun.
Desdemona flew forward and snatched the Quaffle before anyone. She flew at top speed toward the Slytherin goal post, dodging one Bludger as she did so. She was almost there when Crabbe shot the second Bludgers at her. She dodged aside and missed her shot, though she was able to hurl the ball to Pandora. The dark-haired girl pulled her broom out from under her and spun around, using the back end of the broom to hit the Quaffle, knocking it straight through the far left hoop. The Slytherin section rang out in howls, but the rest of the stadium cheered loudly, drowning them out.
"I hope you kissed your werewolf girlfriend goodbye, Potter!" Draco Malfoy called to him. The two boys were higher than everyone else, searching for the Snitch. "Because she's going to have an unfortunate accident today."
Harry glared at Malfoy, but said nothing. He knew Malfoy was full of empty threats, but he still found himself watching Pandora more than searching for the Snitch.
Half an hour later, they were up fifty to zero. Draco seemed to be getting frustrated that his team could not score, mostly because Harry's Chasers knew how to keep ahold of the Quaffle. The girls were scoring left and right, and doing so quite elaborately. They spent as much time off of their broom as they did on it. Harry suspected this was Desdemona's influence, but he wasn't going to argue. It showed the rest of the school just how good Gryffindor was, and that Harry was right to choose the people he did.
Another half an hour passed. They were up eighty to zero. Malfoy was now shooting insults at Harry rather than searching for the Snitch, which suited Harry fine as he was way too used to this by now. The girls were zooming in to score again, and at last...he spotted the Snitch.
Harry zoomed upwards with Draco on his tail. The Snitch wasn't far off. He was going to catch it, they were going to win, and Gryffindor would be having one hell of a party in the common room later, at which everyone would be congratulating Harry rather than ridiculing him.
Harry's hand closed around the Snitch and the crowd let out a roar. Madam Hooch's whistle sounded. He raised his hand in the air, the Snitch struggling under his fingers. A scream distracted him, though. It belonged to someone in the crowd, who'd seen Sebastian Lestrange slam into Pandora, sending her through the hangings on one of the towers of the Pitch.
Without thinking, Harry zoomed towards the ground, discarded his broom, and took off at a full sprint for the tower. Others did the same, but he didn't look back to see who. He got to the tower and threw back the hangings, his eyes looking wildly around to find Pandora. He swallowed hard as he saw pieces of her broom laying all over the ground below him.
Harry's head jerked upward. Ten feet above him, Pandora was bent over one of the many beams inside the tower. Her head was bleeding and she looked pale, but she was alive.
Harry shoved the Snitch into his pocket and climbed up the beams as others entered, and he was able to make it up to Pandora before they did. "What hurts?" he asked her quietly. Adam pulled himself up near them.
"Everything," Pandora said in a quiet voice. "My arms...legs...back...head..."
"I'm going to get you down," Adam said to her. "It's going to hurt...but I have to. Okay?"
Pandora nodded slowly, but said nothing. Harry looked at Adam, then helped him lift Pandora gently. She gritted her teeth and closed her eyes tight, trying to force back the tears welling up in her eyes. Adam held her up while she draped her arms around his neck, and with Harry's help, everyone got to the ground safely.
"Is she allright?" Phelan asked, instinctively shoving others away to get to his sister.
"Look out," Adam said. Harry got everyone out of the way and Adam carried her out onto the pitch. Dumbledore arrived a second later and conjured a stretcher, which Adam then laid Pandora upon. Adam pulled out his wand and muttered a spell, which made his wand emit a dim purple glow. He hovered the wand over her. "A dislocated shoulder and a mild concussion. Everything else is just bruising."
"Is that it?" Pandora laughed, trying to sit up.
"Oh no you don't," Remus said as he and Phoenix made their way to the middle. He put one hand gently on his daughter's shoulder, pushing her back down. "Straight to the infirmary."
"No arguing," Phoenix said, smiling softly at her daughter though worry was still lining her expression.
"Harry," Pandora said quietly. Harry made his way over to her again. "You caught the Snitch, right?"
Harry smiled and reached into his pocket, then held up the golden ball for her to see. "Don't I always?"
Pandora smiled and closed her eyes as Dumbledore flicked his wand and everyone started escorting her up to the castle. Snape was saying something to Sebastian Lestrange, though it didn't look too harsh. He glared at the two for a moment, then turned his head when his father spoke to him.
"Let it go," James said, one hand clasped firmly on Harry's shoulder. "I know you want to hit him, but let it go."
"No, I want to hit Snape," Harry said angrily. "He's not going to do a damn thing." He turned to look at his father. "Is he?"
James sighed. "Probably not. But Dumbledore will."
"I hope you're right," Harry said, snatching up his broom. He glanced over at Adam and Phelan, both of whom were standing rigidly, glaring daggers at the Slytherins.
"Take it easy, guys," he said as he approached them with his father and Sirius behind him. "If you do anything--"
"I'll be kicked out of school because I'm a half-breed," Phelan finished for him, his tone hostile.
"Enough!" Harry snapped at him. The boy looked at him. "I'm tired of hearing that name, so knock it off. You don't believe that rubbish any more than I do."
Phelan nodded slowly, and Harry accepted this. He motioned away from the pitch and began walking. Phelan started to follow. But howls suddenly rang out from the Slytherins behind him, led by Draco Malfoy and the Lestrange twins.
In a flash, Harry, Phelan and Adam had abandoned the others and sprinted at the group of Slytherins. Harry slammed his fist into Draco's face, Phelan faked a jab at Sebastian before turning and kicking him in the chest, and Adam managed to knock into both Crabbe and Goyle, sending them toppling down onto the much smaller Lyra Lestrange.
"Enough!" Professor McGonagall shrieked as she shoved through the crowd. Adam backed off instantly. Harry had to grab Phelan and pull him back. To their horror, following Professor McGonagall were Bellatrix Lestrange and both Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy. "To the castle! All of you! And you three," she said, pointing to Harry, Adam and Phelan. "My office!"
"See you upstairs," Ginny said to Harry, Adam and Phelan as the mass of their group headed up to Gryffindor Tower.
The three boys did as they were told, heading upstairs to Professor McGonagall's office. They arrived at the door and waited outside until the flustered woman came up the hall, followed by James. "Inside!" Professor McGonagall barked, entering the room. The boys followed her inside, and James shut the door after them, waiting at the back of the room.
"If you'd like to stay in this school," McGonagall began slowly, "beating upon Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Lestrange is the wrong way to do it!"
"Don't pretend you didn't see what we did, professor," Adam growled. "Pandora's lucky to be alive."
"That's beside the point!"
"They provoked us," Harry said firmly. "You heard them howling! They've been harassing Phelan like this for weeks!"
"Still beside the point, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said firmly. "The three of you will serve detention for two weeks."
"And what will Lestrange get?" Phelan growled. "A slap on the wrist...or house points?"
"Do you wish to make it three weeks, Mr. Lupin?!" McGonagall snapped. "I understand that you're upset about your sister. Mr. Lestrange will be severely punished for doing this, I assure you. You are not to take matters into your own hands! I'd thought you inherited your father's calm nature, but apparently you got your mother's temper. Learn to control it!"
"Let's leave Phoenix out of it, professor," James said from the back of the room.
"Yes," McGonagall sighed. "Well...off with you. I will inform you of your detention dates and punishments." She waved her hand towards the door and the three boys left. They stopped in the hall and waited, and a few moments later, James exited as well. He shut the door and motioned for the boys to follow him. They did so, but they'd climbed up two floors and travelled down an abandoned hallway before he stopped to talk to them.
"Malfoy is upstairs with Dumbledore," he said seriously to the three. "So far, he just wants Phelan out."
"I'm the one who punched Malfoy, not him!" Harry protested.
"Yes, but Phelan is a werewolf," James said grimly. "Watch your step. All three of you. Don't tell anyone anything they don't need to know," he said with a glance at Adam, who nodded. "Hogwarts is the safest place for all three of you right now. Voldemort and his men want all three of you for different reasons, but even still, you're all in danger."
"We'll be careful," Adam said, reassuring James. "We're not stupid..."
"I know," James replied, sighing. "You want to see Pandora?"
The boys nodded in unison. James led them down a floor, then to the opposite side of the castle. The sky outside was growing steadily darker, threatening rain. When James pushed open the infirmary door, the dark atmosphere could not have been more fitting. "How is she?" James asked quietly as they approached the last bed in the hall. This one had been occupied by Remus years before, after each full moon. Pandora was laying in it now, curled up under her covers. Remus was in a chair beside the bed, watching his daughter sleep.
"She'll be fine," Remus said, sitting up a little straighter to look at them. "Madam Pomfrey worked her magic, and now she simply has to sleep it off. She's had potions for the pain. Thomas is going to stop by later to have a look as well, though he's confident that Madam Pomfrey has everything under control."
"Where's Nyxie?" James asked, looking around. It was not like Phoenix to be absent when one of her children was injured or sick.
"Dumbledore's office," Remus replied. "Lucius is having a fit. Bellatrix and Narcissa, too. She and Sirius went up there -- Sirius to keep Phoenix from killing them, probably -- when Dumbledore called." His eyes travelled to Phelan, who looked away. "Why did you attack them?" Phelan did not answer. "You know what Malfoy will say, Phelan. You know what he'll do..."
"If he wants to kick one of us, he'll have to kick us all," Adam said firmly, staring harshly at Remus.
"Us half-breeds," Adam replied, ignoring a glare from Harry. "There are six of us here at Hogwarts...not just these two. If they want to kick Phelan and Pandora, they'll have to boot us all."
The door of the infirmary opened and they all turned. Phoenix and Sirius were striding toward them, both wearing the same angry and determined expression on their faces. Phoenix drew her wand as she neared the end of the room. She waved it at Madam Pomfrey's door, then at the windows, and lastlly, at Pandora. It seemed she was putting Silencing Charms on them, as she finally stowed it and turned to the boys.
"What were you thinking?!" she shouted at the three of them. Adam recoiled, but Harry and Phelan stood still, both looking at a spot on the floor. "He's a stupid boy! They just lost a match, of course they were going to provoke you! Hogwarts is where you are safe, and you're going to throw that away because of an idiot like Draco Malfoy?!" Still, none of them said nothing. She grabbed Phelan's chin and forced him to look up at her. "Stop letting them get to you," she said firmly, looking into his eyes. "The more it affects you, the more they'll do it. Stop caring and they'll stop doing it."
"Easy for you to say," Phelan growled, his eyes filling with tears.
"No, it's not," Phoenix replied. "I watched them do it to your father, and that hurt bad enough. I was hoping by the time I had children, the public would be over their ridiculous fear of werewolves. Every time they howl like that, it hurts me, too. Not because they're harassing you, but because I can see how it really hurts you." She let go of his chin and pulled him into her arms, hugging him tightly while hiding her face in his shoulder. He did the same, his body shaking slightly.
"Dumbledore has held Malfoy off for now," Sirius told the others. "But he's going to keep trying."
"Of course he will," Phoenix sighed as she released Phelan. She walked to the end of Pandora's bed and sat down. Remus leaned forward and took her hand in his, squeezing it gently. She smiled softly for a moment, then looked back around at James. "You can't put it off much longer."
James nodded slowly. Harry looked between the two. "Put what off?" he asked, looking at his father.
"Tomorrow," James said. "We'll gather up everyone and sit down somewhere."
Phoenix nodded and looked at Pandora, brushing her daughter's dark hair away from her face. The girl muttered in her sleep, and Harry's face turned pink when he heard his name among the mutterings. Sirius smirked sideways at him, then he and James escorted Harry and Adam out of the room and up to Gryffindor Tower.
"Hello, Harry!" said an airy voice as Harry turned a corner. He'd almost bumped head-on into Luna Lovegood, a sixth year girl with dirty blonde hair and protuberant silvery-grey eyes. Harry blinked a few times, as he always did when confronted with Luna. Of course, it was never her face that distracted him. It was her odd, mis-matched clothing. Today she bore a red and gold Gryffindor scarf, a gold sweater that looked oddly familiar, and a pair of bright red stretch pants, topped off with lime green sneakers. And yet, that wasn't the worst of it. Atop her head sat a large hat, adorned with a life-size lion head that roared when she instructed it to. He'd seen it before, and though it was clever, it was still rather odd. Of course...that was Luna Lovegood. "That was a good match," she said to him. "I enjoyed watching it...until Pandora Lupin fell, anyway."
"Er, thanks," Harry said, unsure of what else to say.
"Have you seen Phelan?" she asked.
"Huh?" Harry asked, shaking his head slightly. "Phelan? Uh...he was in the infirmary."
"Ohh," Luna said, nodding. "Will you give him something?"
"Uh, sure," said Adam, looking just as confused as Harry.
Luna beamed at him. She pulled off her hat and shoved it into his arms, then fumbled with several long necklaces before pulling off the familiar gold sweater. Underneath was a maroon t-shirt, clashing horribly with the rest of the clothes she was wearing. She handed the sweater to Harry, then took back her hat, perching it on top of her head once more. "He loaned me that." She pointed at the sweater in Harry's hand. "He told me it was his lucky sweater. I wonder if it's threaded with Wharple hair?"
Adam raised an eyebrow. "What's a Wharple?"
"Ohh, Wharples are nasty things that hags keep as pets. They're really lucky though, if you catch one." She pulled a battered copy of The Quibbler from her bag, then shoved it into Adam's hands. The front page bore a large headline about Wharples. "I have another copy, so you can have that one." Adam stared at it, speechless. "Well...goodbye!"
As Luna turned to walk away, Harry and Adam looked at each other. They stared for a few long moments. Even Sirius and James were slightly confused. "Did he mention anything about her to you?" Harry asked Adam.
Adam shook his head. "No. You?"
Harry shook his head.
"Boys, get back here!" James called after Harry and Adam, who took off at a run back down the stairs. James and Sirius followed them all the way back to the infirmary, where they found Phelan alone with his sister.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Harry panted as they entered.
Phelan raised a brow. "What are you talking about?" he asked.
Harry held up the sweater. Phelan swallowed visably.
"Well?" Adam asked. "How long?"
"A MONTH?!" Harry said so loudly it sounded like he was shouting. He quickly quieted himself. "A month and you haven't told us?!"
"You never asked," Phelan said. "Besides...I knew you'd react like this."
"Of course," Adam chuckled. "It's Loony Lovegood."
"Don't call her that!" Phelan snapped, then turned pink in the face as Adam beamed at him.
"You know, she'll be Loony Lupin if you two ever get hitched," he said, throwing an arm around Phelan, who gave him a glare so icy that Adam actually retracted from him, feeling as though he'd been doused in freezing water.
"We wouldn't have made fun of you," Harry said. "Why didn't you just say it?"
"Because I'm not worried about you," Phelan said in a tired voice. "It's just..." He swallowed. "She gets picked on enough without me adding onto it. If any Slytherins find out we're together, they're going to give her hell."
Adam and Harry glanced at each other, then back at Phelan. They knew he was right. Though they never became friends with Luna Lovegood, they couldn't say she bothered them. She was nice, minded her own business, and was good for an occasional laugh. She had an odd sense about her, though, and they could tell that it was this that attracted Phelan to her. Luna was always able to see the best in people.
"She knows I'm a werewolf," Phelan said quietly, sitting down again. "I told her the day we got together...before she said yes."
Harry stared at Phelan, but he could see from the corner of his eye that Adam was smiling. It wasn't a smirk, but a genuine, happy smile that was rare in him these days. "What did she say when you told her?" Adam asked.
"She didn't say anything at first," Phelan said. He suddenly burst out laughing. Harry couldn't help but stare now. He hadn't heard Phelan laugh openly in years. In fact, it was quite hard to remember the last time this happened.
"What?" Harry asked, starting to worry about Phelan now.
"She said that she didn't know what all the fuss was about," Phelan said, wiping tears of laughter from his eyes. "She said the only reason werewolves act dangerously is because Wrackspurts are attracted to them. They're these invisible creatures, see, and they fly into your ears and make your brain go all fuzzy. She says that they get into a werewolf's ears and it makes them crazy." He pulled a small, twisted root from his pocket. "This should protect me from them, so I wont be violent anymore," he said, laughing as he spoke. "A root to ward off Wrackspurt."
Adam slowly reached out and grabbed the root, looking it over. He handed it back to Phelan, then leaned over and whispered to Harry. "Whatever is wrong with Loony Lovegood, I think Phelan caught it."
"Let's just hope it's curable," Harry muttered in return. The two boys looked at each other and nodded, then back at Phelan, who was still giggling.
A/N: Sorry this took so long. I know it's not long, and it's not great, but I got a few key moments out there and in the open. I've got part of the next chapter done. It's a chunk in the middle, so I get to work around that. Yay?
Loony & Lupin...there could be no better pairing. Luna Lovegood and Phelan Lupin are just too good to be true, I think. When I was thinking about a girlfriend for him, I was reading Order of the Phoenix. Luna is one of the coolest characters, in my opinion. I don't write her in often because I don't want to destroy the character. Hopefully I can work her in a bit more now without doing so...but feel free to let me know when I screw up.
P.S. -- Sleep is good.
Write a Review The Gate of Fear: Chapter Seventeen: All Because of Wrackspurt