While the students all over the hall were still clapping and cheering for the newly chosen champions, Luna was watching the Goblet of Fire with a cocked head. It was not done with its work, but no one other than her and a not very nice person knew that yet. Its aura had changed since it had first been shown to the students, but Luna was not able to follow the Wrackspurts to the person responsible for it, as there were too many people in the Great Hall.
She detested the feasts in the Great Hall and tried to miss them as much as possible. There were too many people in one place, too much magic, too many moods and too many fates, ever moving and changing and influencing each other. It was distracting and often even exhausting. She had not learned yet to ignore it, was still not sure if she wanted to learn to ignore it. Ignorance was the greatest failure of her fellow magicians and she did not want to be part of it. And nowhere she had searched was written anything about how to notice and sort through it, but not be distracted.
Luna frowned in dismay when the Goblet of Fire finally spat out a fourth name and the mood all around her changed immediately. She knew whose name was on the small paper before Dumbledore even read the name because there was a rapid change of fate all around him on the Gryffindor table. Suddenly everyone seemed angry at Harry, but Luna could not understand why anyone would think a student would have been able to influence the Goblet. It was disappointing that not one of her fellow Ravenclaws paused to even think about the fact how there could have been chosen a fourth person when the Goblet had been created to choose three and had in its long existence never done anything else.
Luna kept her thoughts to herself, while all around her speculations began to spread about Harry's plans and how he had accomplished to be chosen as a second champion for Hogwarts. This kind of talk was nothing new in her house, but it was never kind things her housemates had to say about Harry. Luna had never understood them, but then she had had her problems with understanding others from a very young age. And the same was true for others understanding her.
Harry was one of the very few people she had ever met who had helped her without a second thought. She knew that he would not remember the handful of times they had met, because he had been absent-minded whenever they had met. But he had been nice and helpful nonetheless every single time, never even hesitating in reaching out a helping hand, not even when half a dozen other students were bothering her at the time.
On the evening of that day, when most of her housemates had already gone to bed, Luna browsed the library of Ravenclaw for any information about the Tournament. She had not done so before that night because she had not been very interested in it, but she knew other Ravenclaws had found plenty of information. Maybe she could find something to help Harry get out of the Tournament. She could not imagine that there were no regulations about possible manipulations of the Goblet or other artefacts involved in the Tournament.
Until the day of the Ceremony of the Wandweighing, which was after the choosing of the champions the first official act of the Tournament, Luna had read everything about it she had been able to find, and that had surprisingly been a lot. No one else had reacted upon the very clear information she had found and no one had taken any notice of her whenever she had talked about it. She was used to being ignored, even by the teachers, but it had never been so frustrating.
But she had made a plan and the first step in it would take place on this day.
Luna waited for Rita Skeeter to get out of the meeting, the last adult to leave as expected, because there could still be a chance to get a little more information out of the champions the longer she stayed. It was no hardship at all to stumble into the way of the reporter, who had her eyes on her notebook and was clearly already writing her article at least in her head.
Skeeter shrieked in a high voice, as she nearly stumbled over Luna. "Can't you…" She paused when Luna looked up at her out of wide, innocent eyes. "Oh… are you alright, child?"
Luna nodded. "I'm sorry. I was looking into the sky and didn't see you coming. - Isn't it a nice day to fly?"
Skeeter blinked. "Pardon me?"
Luna smiled brightly. "Sometimes I imagine I was an animal that can fly so that I would be able to fly. A beetle maybe. But then, life as a beetle is dangerous, don't you think?"
"I don't know what you are talking about." Skeeter sneered down at her and the Nargles around her started to get restless.
"I'm sure you do." Luna shrugged. "I wonder how many beetles are eaten by the cats and toads of students every day. There are a lot of pets here in school. Do you ever wonder about the people who just vanish, if they changed into an animal and were lost because another animal ate them?"
Skeeter squinted her eyes. "What do you want, girl?" Her Nargles were starting to make a right ruckus and Luna was glad that she could not hear them. She thought their voices must be shrill and hurtful to any human ear.
Luna grinned. "I'm sorry, sometimes I'm chased by silly thoughts and going on tangents. … Just last week I went through all the old editions of the Daily Prophet at the end of '81. I just wanted to make a timeline on when which trial had taken place. And do you know what a curiosity I found there?"
"No," Skeeter said through gritted teeth.
"There were quite a few people sent to prison without any kind of report about their trial, even though there was written a lot about their apparent crimes." Luna cocked her head. "I wonder what one would find in the files of their trials. Or if they even had any. Maybe there were mistakes made at the time, it was all very hectic, right?" She smiled dreamily. "I wish I could go to the ministry to look at all those files. Now, when everyone is looking at the tournament and being distracted because there is one champion to many, a lone researcher surely wouldn't be bothered there."
"For what purpose?" Skeeter’s voice was cold and repellent.
"Wouldn't it be great to uncover a big scandal right in the ministry?" Luna sighed dreamily. "What a big step for a such a small beetle from reporting about silly children in a silly tournament to uncovering the failures of a revered minister!" For the first time, Luna met the eyes of the reporter head on. "That's the stories that bring authors recognition, aren't they?"
Skeeter frowned at her but her Nargles had calmed down and were excitedly whispering with each other. "And do you still have the list you made last week?"
Luna grinned. "It's already waiting at home for you. Along with a list of all those beetle eating pets here at Hogwarts and where they like to roam. Better not to go too near of the Gryffindor tower. There is a half kneezle that apparently ate the rat of another student last year. Or that's what I heard anyway."
She turned without waiting for a reply and left the reporter to her own device. She had still to write another letter and she so hated to correspondent with the dverger in written word.
Three days after the Wandweighing, breakfast in Hogwarts was interrupted when the door to the Great Hall was opened with a loud bang and seven dverger came into the hall. Luna smiled and played absent-mindedly with her necklace while watching the dverger descend down the suddenly very quiet hall. Every student and every adult at the head table was looking at them stunned.
"Following the agreements of the treaty from 1753 we demand the surrender of the person responsible for altering an artefact forged with dverger magic", the dverger at the head announced with a booming voice. "As all our correspondence has been ignored, we decided to take the person suspected of this crime into custody ourself." He turned to the Gryffindor table. "If Mr Harry James Potter would please step forward."
Before Harry could react, Dumbledore stood up. "You have no right to come here, goblin."
Luna sighed, deeply disappointed about the bad taste the headmaster was showing. A man like him should know better than to use such a slur, especially in front of all the students. But then, she had never heard anyone here at Hogwarts use the actual name of their race and there was not much else in their history lessons they were learning about than the various conflicts between humans and the dverger.
"Failing to comply with the treaty of 1753 will lead to Gringotts closing for all business immediately," the leader of the dverger group stated. "The ICW will be informed about the infraction of Britain against an international treaty, of course."
Luna was watching Harry, who was twitching in his seat. His Nargles were clinging at him as ever, subdued and warily. But his fate was in an undetermined state for the first time since she had known him. Normally it was ever-changing, as it was for everyone else, but revolving around a fixed core she had never seen with anyone else. It was nice to see this core pulsing and shrinking down in the face of the dverger's intervention.
"Harry Potter is a student of this school and he has not yet reached his majority," Dumbledore protested.
The dverger inclined his head. "We are aware. Nevertheless, the public accusations against the boy have to be addressed. Rest assured, we won't interrogate him without the presence of his magical guardian."
"That would be me," Dumbledore said. "We can have…"
"It is not," the dverger interrupted him. "Harry Potter's magical guardian of record is Sirius Black."
There started to rise a low murmur between the students, that quieted down abruptly when the dverger bumped the end of his staff on the floor.
"Sirius Black is a convicted criminal!" Dumbledore started to protest again and Luna saw Harry wince at the other end of the hall.
"Gringotts has yet to be provided any proof of such a conviction." The dverger turned away from Dumbledore. "Mr. Potter, will you accompany us of your own free will?"
Harry was pale, but he stood up without hesitating and nodded. "Yes, Sir."
"I won't allow-"
"This is not your decision, Mr. Dumbledore." The dverger didn't even look at the headmaster as he interrupted his protest. "You won't need to take anything with you, Mr. Potter. We will provide anything you need."
Luna stared at Harry until their eyes met, and then she smiled at him, mouthing 'Trust them!' at him. She had not found an opportunity to warn Harry about the coming interference of the dverger and she was not sure what he knew about them. But with all she knew about his first three years at Hogwarts, he would find a way to prevail as he had done every other time he had found himself in unexpected and unusual circumstances. He frowned and did not show any reaction to her, but she knew he had seen and understood.
Luna was quite disappointed that Dumbledore remembered not to draw his wand against a dverger while they escorted Harry out of the Great Hall. To see him lose his wand to one of them would have been magnificent. As soon as they had left, Dumbledore fled out of the room and pure chaos broke out. Everyone was talking excitedly and no one of the teachers even tried to get back a resemblance of an order or to get the students to leave for their first lesson after the end of breakfast.
On the very next day, an article of great interest was published in any European paper expect the Daily Prophet. Therefore, the ministry's interference in the publishing of the most read paper in Great Britain was not only pointless but also widely noticed and raising questions that should have arisen years ago.
Luna was silently applauding Rita Skeeter for such a clever move. Of course, she had chosen another pen name, as it was the only right thing to do to protect herself, but Sophie Rayner's author's voice was much too similar to that of Rita Skeeter – regardless of the much more sinister tone of this article than was evident in her other work – that many attentive readers had a good suspicion about her true identity.
The outcry was enormous, especially as there were hundreds of witnesses to the dverger statement that for fourteen years the ministry had not managed to forward the appropriate documents of the conviction of the heir of one the most Ancient and Noble houses. As long as that had not happened, Sirius Black would hold officially a seat in the wizengamot and that meant there existed a killing on sight order for a protected member of their government. The problem of Harry Potter being in the custody of the dverger was forgotten for a whole week after that bombshell had dropped.
Dumbledore had vanished out of Hogwarts, to busy with being the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and the Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, even so, the later position was lost to him and Great Britain in general only two days later when it was discovered that Dumbledore had known all along about the missing trial for at least Sirius Black if not the other prisoners that had since been released into the custody of the ICW, and that Dumbledore had done nothing to rectify this situation. Suddenly no one was talking about the Tournament any more, because Great Britain was officially under the inspection of the ICW and there was a lot to be discovered.
Luna was pleased to note that Sophie Rayner's name stood under many of the articles that were detailing the revelations about the atrocities of the ministry. The little beetle seemed to have found a new purpose and maybe even a new fate.
Harry's return to Hogwarts went by nearly unnoticed because everyone was distracted by the seven dverger returning to school with him and revealing their Defence teacher to not be Alastor Moody but a Death Eater by the Name of Barty Crouch Jr., who should be dead and buried under Azkaban. Luna was only too happy to see the man leave. There had been something off about him, but she had never been able to see what it was and therefore had wisely taken her distance from him as much as possible.
Only hours after his return, Luna found Harry sitting on the shore of the Black Lake and staring at the dark water. His Nargles were still sad, but they were not clinging to him any more as they had done in the past. And earlier, when he had come into the Great Hall with the dverger, they had even been happily dancing around him. She suspected that they finally dared so be separate from him because the dark shadow that had clung to his forehead had vanished.
She sat down in the grass beside him. "Hello, Harry."
He turned his head to her and blinked several times. "Uhm, hello … Luna was it, right?"
She smiled brightly. "Yes. You remember my name, that's nice!"
"When the dverger came for me … You tried to tell me to trust them."
Luna inclined her head. "And was that bad advice?"
Smiling, Harry shook his head. "No. It was actually pretty good. - And it was very helpful in the beginning. I had no idea what they wanted to do with me and you gave me hope that they wouldn't kill me for manipulating one of their artefacts."
"Who told you they would do that?" Luna asked appalled.
Harry shrugged. "Professor Binns?"
Luna sighed deeply. "Sometimes it's very sad that we have to learn so much on our own in this school because of the biases of our teachers."
"They were very courteous. And as compensation for the false accusations against me and … another thing I'm not allowed to talk about, they offered me tutoring for the next summer."
"That is a great chance!" Luna beamed. "And is your head any better?"
Harry's eyes widened. "How … What do you know about my head?"
"You were rubbing your scar often this year." Luna shrugged. "And it's not as red as it was before you went with the dverger. Did one of their healers see to you?"
Harry swallowed. "I … yes, they did. It was a … unique experience. And you are right, my head is a lot better now." He huffed. "I didn't even know how bad the headache was until it was gone!"
"That's brilliant! - Now that it's proven you didn't put your name into the goblet yourself, do you still have to participate?"
Harry shook his head, grinning brightly. "No. I'm not bound to it. In fact, the whole process was made invalid by my choosing. They'll have to go through another choosing if they actually want to go through with the tournament. But with everything that's happening at the moment, I'm not sure if that's actually what will happen."
"The other champions will be disappointed."
Harry shrugged. "Maybe. But… that's nothing I'm concerned about. I'm just glad I'm out of it. And … I don't care any more what others think about me. I thought I had a lot of friends here, but the last couple of weeks have shown me how few there are that I can count on!"
"I would like to be your friend if you want."
"Yes." Harry smiled softly. "The dverger said they got an anonymous tip about the accusations against me. They wouldn't have interfered otherwise, because the ministry was giving them false information about my inclusion in the tournament. - I have a feeling, that I have to thank you for that."
Luna shook her head laughing. "And how should I have known to do such a thing? I'm just a little third year and most think me quite mad!"
"You are a Ravenclaw. And you looked as if you had expected the dverger."
"If you asked my housemates, you'll learn that nothing ever seems to surprise me. I'm just unable to show such emotions, they'll tell you."
Harry smiled. "Okay, keep your secrets then."
"I think it's the first time we lost a Defence teacher after not even three months!"
"Nice change of subject!" Harry laughed. "I'm not sure if I want the real Moody to take over. But I'm glad about this distraction. I'm dreading my return into the common room a little bit. I don't want to talk about my time with the dverger. With the opinions they all have about them, they won't believe me anyway."
"Maybe some will. And maybe those will make the beginning in changing the attitudes of witches and wizards against the dverger. Don't you think it's time for such a change?"
"Sure." Harry shrugged. "I just … No, you are right. They have taken a huge burden from me. And that is a way in which I can show my gratitude. - Thank you."
Even days after Harry's return no one was speaking about it because every day there seemed to be a new revelation either about the misgivings of the ministry or about the investigation of the dverger about Barty Crouch Jr. There was a fearsome outcry not only in the student body but also among the adults when the dverger announced the capture of the wraith that had remained of Voldemort. They revealed at the same time that this wraith had possessed Quirinus Quirell in the year he had thought Defence in Hogwarts and that he had tried to kill Harry at the end of that year.
That was how the students of Hogwarts learned about the true events during Harry's first year and suddenly everyone was looking at him again and trying to speak with him about this adventure. Barely anyone seemed to care, that the Gryffindor did not want to talk about an event, in which he had to kill another person to defend his own life.
It got just worse, when a different group of dverger came back a couple of days later, to be led into the chamber of secrets by Harry to harvest the cadaver of the Basilisk down there, and everyone learned what had really been responsible for the petrified students two years ago and who was responsible for ending it because all that had been said by Dumbledore at the end of that year had been, that the responsible person had been dealt with. Some had suspected Lockhart of being the culprit, but most had still suspected Harry.
Harry made it an art form to hide from the other students and it became abundantly clear who was really a friend to him because those where the people helping him hide whenever they could. Luna was saddened to see how few it really were and that the break between Ron and Harry seemed to be absolute at this point.
It was only one week to Yule when it was finally decided that the Tournament would be cancelled for good, but the planned ball would still take place. Luna was delighted when Harry asked her to accompany him purely as a friend, even so he confessed disgruntled that he had never learned to dance. The day started with another announcement of the dverger about the banishment of Voldemort's wraith in such a final way, that he would not be able to resurrect himself ever again.
Tom Marvolo Riddle was officially declared dead as of the 20th of December 1994, and many a student showed open horror about the revelation that a man with a muggle father had led a war against muggleborns and half-bloods.
Luna had already known that the problem of Voldemort had been solved when she had seen Harry on this morning for the first time. The fixed core in his fate, that had shrunken to a tiny kernel after he had returned from the dverger, was finally completely gone. Harry's fate was free to grow and ever change, as it should have been from the very beginning. She was sure he would soon notice the change that would be even more far-reaching than his evident gratitude to the dverger already was.
Luna enjoyed the evening with Harry but excused herself when she saw a certain reporter slip out of the hall. Harry would be fine in the presence of his godfather for a while, who had just been declared officially innocent by the ICW two days ago as the first of the victims of the false imprisonment by the ministry. She followed Rita Skeeter to a barely known balcony which offered a breathtaking view over the Black Lake.
"It's too cold now for many beetles to be seen," she said as she stepped beside Skeeter.
Skeeter sighed and her Nargles were looking at Luna warily. "You, again."
Luna smiled. "You looked as if you could use some company."
"And I thought I looked as if I was fleeing company!"
"I'm glad to see your fate changed, little beetle. When everything is said and done about these current events, your name will ever be known as the one to reveal one of the biggest war crimes committed in the blood war against Voldemort."
Skeeter took a deep breath. "I really thought you were sending me on a false trail."
"But you were intrigued enough to follow it."
"Your mother…" Skeeter trailed off and her Nargles were clinging to her sadly.
"So, you recognized me. I was not sure you would."
"You have her eyes and her hair." Skeeter swallowed. "And her gift, I assume."
"She knew she would give it to any child she would have with my father. And she knew it was important to pass it on." Luna smiled warmly. "She couldn't ignore that knowledge. Not even for you."
Skeeter sighed. "I understood that a long time ago."
"Would you have listened to anyone else than me?"
Skeeter snorted. "Probably not."
"Fate is ever-changing," Luna muttered, "but some cross-points will never be missed." She reached into the pocket of her dress to get out the letter she had carried with her every day for a little more than five years now since her mother had given it to her only two days before she had died. "That's what my mum said to me when she gave me this letter for you. She said I would know when I could give it to you."
"Did she tell you about me?" Skeeter asked.
Luna shook her head. "Mum didn't need to tell me her past for me to know it."
Skeeter carefully took the letter. "Thank you."
Luna smiled brightly. "You are most welcome!"
"If you ever need anything, little moon, come to me. I … I would very much like to get to know you."
"There will be a Hogsmead weekend in late January," Luna said softly. "And there is a tea house that very few students know."
"I know where it is. I'll see you there, then?"
Luna nodded. "I'm looking forward to it. But now I'll better go back to the ball before my date begins to miss me." She turned and started to leave, but paused in the door. "Take care of yourself. There… are not a lot companions of your old fate you should still trust. My mum will be content to wait for you on the other side for a couple more decades yet."
She did not wait for a reply and went back into the Great Hall to find Harry, who stood in the small cluster of those who had stood with him through the turmoil of the last weeks. They were laughing, their Nargles were cheerfully playing with each other and their Fates were ever intervening with each other.
The last shadows of the blood war were being lifted and they had a much brighter future ahead of them than it had still appeared to be only two months ago.