Chapter 21 : Dreams
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"Potter, this is Luna Lovegood, the heart of our little group," Malfoy said as Harry and Luna shook hands.
"Nice to meet you," Harry said as calmly as he could. He still couldn't get the image of Luna dancing out of his mind; there had just been something magical about it.
Luna nodded and smiled before turning to address Malfoy's remark, "Nonsense Draco, I'm not the heart, I am merely the one tasked with giving expression to what all of us feel."
Harry watched in shock as Malfoy turned a little red. Had he ever seen Malfoy affected like that before?
"Whatever, you want something to drink?" Malfoy asked in a clear attempt to put some distance between himself and Luna.
"Sure, something minty," she turned and looked at Harry again. "Dancing is such thirsty work, is it not?"
"Uh, yeah," Harry said as Malfoy disappeared past the bouncer and back into the crowd.
Luna gave Harry a dreamy smile, "Did you like my dance?"
"Uh, yeah," Harry said for lack of a better response. He was still trying to wrap his mind around the fact that Malfoy was in love with Luna. It just didn't fit his image of Luna as the mother of his niece and Malfoy as the man that killed him in cold blood.
"You should try it sometime yourself then. My father just published an article on how dancing is the best outlet for emotions. It's a wonderful outlet." Luna got a dreamy expression on her face as she said this and began to sway to music only she could hear.
Harry quietly backed up and took a seat next to Cho Chang, who was drunkenly tying cherry stems with her tongue.
When Malfoy returned with a drink Luna took it with a quiet thanks, drank it quickly, and then began to dance slowly around the cabana. Malfoy was watching her the entire time, a haunted expression on his face. Harry's curiosity got the best of him, he approached Malfoy.
"She's an odd one, isn't she?" Harry asked quietly, so only Malfoy could hear.
Malfoy nodded, his gaze never leaving Luna. "Yes, but she's our odd one."
"You wish she was your odd one, don't you?" Harry asked, using one of those random sparks of intuition he got sometimes.
"Yes, but it can never be. We're both destined to be Ministers to the Fuhrer one day and no two Ministers can be in a relationship, it would create too much conflict. So all I can do is watch her and dream of another world." Malfoy turned pink when he realized what he had said.
"Ah," Harry said quietly. He knew exactly how Malfoy felt. All he could do in this world was watch Ginny and remember the other worlds, the ones in which they had been dating or married. The one in which he'd had a little boy with her smile.
All they could do was dream.
Harry spent the rest of the evening hovering on the outside of this well-established circle of friends, trying to figure out the dynamics of the group while avoiding alcohol like the plague. By the end of the night he was sure that Luna and Malfoy were the true leaders of the group, despite McLaggan and Parkinson's efforts to the contrary. Luna wasn't even the leader intentionally, she just commanded attention. Harry did learn that every single person in this group was in the same position he was in – their mother or father was high up in the Ministry. They had all been forced or persuaded to join the Fuhrer's Guard as they waited for the next change of power and their chance to take their parent's places.
Harry wasn't at all shocked to learn that Luna's father was Minister of Public Relations, in other words – Minister of Propaganda. It fit him and the Quibbler to a T.
Harry finally escaped about midnight, but not without promises to join them the next night so he could tell about his first day on the job.
Upon reaching home Harry headed straight to his room, laid his clothes neatly across a chair, slipped on some pajama bottoms, and crawled into bed.
Despite the exhaustion in his bones it took Harry a little while to fall asleep. He wasn't used to not having Ginny beside him, especially in such a large bed.
Eventually though, sleep did take him. As she welcomed him into her arms Harry couldn't help but smile as he remembered Ginny taking him into her arms.
After falling asleep Harry lay silently in bed for a few minutes, and then he began to move. He moved from side to side, his legs twitching, his fingers wiggling, until the bedsheets were nothing but a sweaty mass tangled around his body.
He was flying on his Firebolt, high above the clouds – nothing below him but big, puffy white clouds; nothing above him but the brilliant sun hanging in the azure sky.
And then they appeared.
An army of dementors came swarming out of the clouds like ants from an anthill. The closer they came the darker the sky grew.
Harry leaned forward and urged his Firebolt to fly faster, but it did no good. It didn't matter how fast he flew, there was no end to the clouds or dementors.
Harry could feel cold sweat breaking out on his face as more and more dementors appeared. The sun no longer warmed him, its light wasn't even visible anymore through the dark clouds that kept creeping closer, ever closer.
He could feel a scream welling up inside his throat as more screams sounded in his head. Desperate, he reached inside his robes to pull out his wand, but instead of grabbing a wand, he found a football. It was old and battered, like the one he had given Ron so many lifetimes ago.
Panicking, he threw it at the closest dementors as he sped ever onwards on his Firebolt. The dementors scattered, leaving a wide open path, Harry shot down, refusing to give into the despair welling up inside him.
It didn't take long for the dementors to regroup. Within minutes they were surrounding him again, Harry tried again for his wand, only to find some sort of needle. Harry didn't even stop to look at it; he threw it ahead of his broom and watched as the dementors skittered out of his way.
When the dementors began closing in on him once again Harry reached inside his robes, but before he could pull it out the dementors let out an unearthly wail and disappeared back through the clouds as quickly as they had appeared.
The sky did not go back to its beautiful shade of blue, instead it grew even darker.
Something even worse than the dementors was behind him, somewhere hidden in the darkness. Harry could sense it, despite his inability to see it.
Harry felt fear try and consume him, but he pushed it back down and refused to give up. Nothing could outrace him when he was on his Firebolt.
As whatever was behind him began to grow closer Harry realized that there was no end to the clouds, so, without a thought, he delved down through the clouds and into the unknown.
Just before the clouds consumed him Harry reached under his robs and pulled out 'The Grindle'. He gave one kick turn and fired it into the darkest bit of space behind him.
He heard something scream and then the clouds consumed him and the world grew completely silent and still.
A moment later his Firebolt and he felt himself falling.
Harry woke up choking back a scream. He was out of bed in a heartbeat and looking himself over.
Fear was clawing at his chest, he knew that the dream hadn't been normal. It had been too real, like his dreams from his fifth year at Hogwarts.
There really had been something chasing him.
Disturbed and unwilling to stay a moment longer in the overly large and opulent bedroom Harry grabbed a blanket out of his chest of drawers and quickly left the room.
He tried to compose himself as he walked silently down the long corridors. As he walked the sweat on his body began to dry, within minutes he was shivering. Harry paused by a large window overlooking the gardens and wrapped the blanket around himself.
The full silver moon was shining down on the gardens, making them look like they were glowing with magic. Harry looked longingly at his "playroom", he couldn't go there. Snape had it locked up from nine to nine in order to stop Harry from spending all of his time there. His mother didn't like it.
Harry couldn't even pick the lock since it was electronic.
Rambling, Harry made his way through the house, eventually coming upon the doorway to Snape's study.
Harry grinned at the thought of ticking off Snape and sleeping on the nice leather couch in there. Cautiously, he pushed open the door to the room. He didn't want to find Snape in there pulling a late night. Finding no one inside Harry went in and gently shut the door as the hall clock struck two.
When Harry's eyes found the couch he felt his eyelids begin to droop. He remembered sleeping on it, his head resting in his mother's lap, as she talked to Snape. He must've been only three or four then. Snape had never complained about that, Harry had sometimes even woken up to find Snape carrying him up to bed. It had only been later, when Harry began looking like his father, that Snape had begun treating him cruelly. Harry was too tired at the moment to think about why that was, he just wanted to sleep.
He sank into the couch, tucked his arm under his head for a pillow, pulled the blanket tighter around himself, and fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.
He didn't get to sleep for very long.
Harry was awakened about thirty minutes later by the door to the study slowly creeping open and then slowly snapping shut. He frowned as he listened to soft footsteps move slowly across the carpet, Snape never walked like that.
As Harry listened he heard drawers opening and papers being shuffled around.
Who was in the study and what were they looking for.
Carefully Harry sat up so he could see over the back of the couch. He couldn't help but grin at the sight of the slight, red-haired woman going through his stepfather's desk.
"Looking for something?" Harry asked casually.
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