The Many Faces of Harry Potter 37

“The Many Faces of Har—er, Adira Potter: Chapter 37”
By = Fayanora

Chapter Thirty-seven: The Sleepwalker's Arc Continued

Note 1: Text in 'Italics and British quotes' is Parseltongue.

Note 2: Once more, I apologize for the bits and pieces of canon dialogue/narration here and there. But some canon scenes are just too good to change much.

Note 3: I have different styles for the internal speech of Alastair, Adira, Zoey, # Iliana (bold, italic, underlined, and between hashtags/pound signs. # , {Tier}, ~Chandra,~ % Mother AKA Avani Maznah, % and (Hypatia/Megan.)

Note 4: All hail Our Lady Of Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling!

Note 5: Yes, Chandra is speaking of himself in the third person in these chapters. The Sleepwalker's Arc chapters were written in third person. It was easier to keep it that way than to try changing them to first person or whatever.

*FAYANORA*

Part 3
Or “Searching In The Darkness For Ways To Help The Light.”
As told by Chandra Rahasyamay.

Once Chandra had taught Hypatia how to activate the simple ritual to get past Moody, and once she could transform again, she went right to Slytherin's common room one night. He wasn't in there, probably because she'd been gone so long, but she sneaked around the boys' dorms and found his dorm, finding him reading in bed.

Naturally, he looked at the door opening on its own. Getting his wand out, he hissed, “Identify yourself!”

“It's me!”

“Hypatia? Where have you been all this time? The First Task of the Triwizard Tournament is just a week away!”

“Sorry. But Moody's got this eye that can see through solid objects, even invisibility cloaks, and I didn't want to get caught by him. Come on, let's talk downstairs.”

“Fine, alright. But I'm still cross with you, you never even sent me any letters, once we got back to school.”

“Yeah, well, I've been having trouble with my dorm mates. They hide my stuff, it's infuriating. By the time I find it again, I've quite forgotten anything but my anger.”

They went downstairs into the common room before Draco spoke again.

“Yes, and naturally you couldn't just walk up to me in the Great Hall.”

“I'm sorry! I really, truly am. It's hurt so much. You're still my only friend, Draco. I've been lonely this whole time, if I could've gotten hold of you, I would have.” She started to laugh, as she always did when she was miserable.

“Okay okay, stop laughing, I'm sorry I was so cross with you. It's just... why can't you just talk to me in the halls like a normal person?”

She hung her head. “It's just... no, I'm sorry, I don't have an explanation. I just can't. It's nothing personal against you.” She took his hand in hers and squeezed it. “If I could come up to you in the hall during the day, I would. If I could meet you over the weekend during the day, I would. In a heartbeat I would, if I could. But I can't.”

Something strange went across his face briefly, but it passed as he grew thoughtful.

“I'll respect your privacy, then, Hypatia. But if there's anything I can do to help you, let me know, okay?”

“I will. Thank you for understanding.”

“Well, I don't understand, really, but I'm a Slytherin. We all have our secrets. I'm still your friend, though, just so you know.”

She smiled, and they went back to work as though no time had passed since last year.

Toward the end of their time together that night, though, Draco asked, “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. How did you get past Moody's eye, finally?”

“I got desperate, and swore that Magic Itself could have some of my magic for two days if I could just get past Moody's eye. I felt a tingle, lost my ability to cast Disillusionment Charms, and suddenly I knew I could do it. I went out, walked right by him and he didn't see, even when I waved at him under the cloak. Which was a neat trick because I almost got caught by him once before. I know he can see through the cloak normally. But once I did that, he just couldn't see me anymore.”

“That sounds like ritual magic.” He smirked at her. “That's technically dark magic, that is. You really should have been in Slytherin.”

“You mean there's more kinds of magic than accidental magic and wand magic?”

“Oh yes. There's wandless magic, which is right on the edge between light and dark magic due to being much harder to control, and only really accepted because it was hard to make a case against it. Then of course ritual magic, which always has a cost. You have to give something up to gain something of equal or lesser value, in ritual magic. It's a form of magic that can be highly unpredictable, very persnickety. The smallest mistakes can be dangerous, which is why it's mostly considered dark magic. You got lucky, for your first time, only losing Disillusionment Charms. You could've ended up being unable to do magic at all for a day or two instead.”

“Wow. You sound like you know something about them.”

“I might have some resources that could benefit you, in that regard. With your arithmancy skills, I'll bet you could improve on many of the rituals I know about. Tricky though ritual magic may be, it still follows rules and can be defined arithmantically.”

“Sounds like a project for next time.”

“Yes. Speaking of, when can you meet again?”

“I'm not sure. It depends on when my dorm mates go to bed, and how deep they sleep. I'll be back as soon as I can, though.”

“I'll go back to waiting for you in the common room, then.”

“Thanks,” she said, and kissed him on the cheek quickly before pulling on the cloak and heading out into the corridors.

~

They did indeed make a project of studying ritual magic. Draco got some books from his father via their owl, and the two friends studied these books every night they were able to, in addition to the other projects they had with one another.

“This book here is especially interesting, I think. Its payments are a little more troubling than sacrificing bits of your magic, but the payouts are greater.”

“What kind of payments?”

“Mostly pain. You invoke one of these rituals, and you might have to deal with a migraine for a day, or a throbbing pain in your leg, all the way up to the heavier rituals that can give you arthritis for the rest of your life.”

“Arthritis? I don't know what could possibly be worth that sort of payment, Draco.”

“Well I haven't read the book yet, so neither do I. But let's take an example. Hmm... not that one, not that one... ah! Here's one. This ritual here costs a bad hand cramp in your non-dominant hand for a day, and with it you can increase your reaction speed in duels for the same duration.”

“Hardly necessary in my case, but it's a worthy example.”

“Here's another example, a ritual curse. Block someone's magic completely for a day, the cost is pain in your arms for the day.”

“Sounds like a poor choice of payment. You cripple yourself for a day just to do the same to someone else? Let me see that one. I want to study that one. There might be a way to improve on it.”

“In ritual magic, Hypatia, you have to sacrifice something to get something of equal or lesser value. The cost and the reward are often directly related. Whatever you want to happen to another, you have to do to yourself, or do something similar instead. Or, in some of the darker rituals, you have to do it to someone else, but that has effects on your mind.”

“Yeah, I figured that out already. It's kind of obvious. I give up the Disillusionment Charm to gain being hidden from Moody's magical eye. You hurt your enemy's hands by hurting your own. But I think there's more to it than that. You mentioned one possible cost I could've had to pay for the same protection from Moody was losing my magic for a day or more. That suggests it's not always related. That it's just a balancing act; give yourself some sort of strength by willingly taking on a weakness in its place. But no... the maths aren't adding up.”

“What do you mean?” Draco asked.

“I mean that sacrificing your magic for a day is too high a cost, arithmantically, for that small a reward. Giving up all your ability to defend yourself for a whole day or more just to hide from a magical eye? That's like paying a galleon for something worth a sickle, and getting no change back.”

“Yes, it is. But that sort of thing only happens if you screw up the ritual. It's a punishment for making a mistake.”

“You make it sound like some god is to blame. But it's just maths and physics. Magic is a part of how the universe works, and since it can be described arithmantically, that means it has rules, as you said. The rules don't just change because you mess up. That extra energy when a ritual is messed up goes somewhere. I just don't know where yet.”

“Wherever it goes probably depends on how you've messed up.”

Hypatia picked a small ritual out of another book and started working out the maths on it, in her head. Within a few minutes, she had it analyzed enough to theorize some ways it might go wrong. But she needed more data.

“I'm going to purposefully mess this one up to see what happens.”

“What? Why? You shouldn't do that, it's dangerous!”

Tapping a parchment with her wand, she filled it with her analysis of the ritual. “As you can see here, I have it analyzed enough I think I can guess how it can go wrong. To come up with a hypothesis about where the energy of a botched ritual goes, I need more data. I need to botch one on purpose and see what happens. This one is already analyzed, with predictions. It's safe.”

“Wait, did you do all those maths in your head?”

“Yes. It was a trivial analysis.”

Trivial? I don't even know what half of these symbols mean!”

“I've always been good at maths. The sort of maths they teach in Muggle schools far outstrip the reach of what's taught in the wizarding world.”

“Wait, you were in a Muggle school? When? Are you a Mud—er, a Muggle-born?”

“I'm a half-blood. I was raised in the Muggle world. My parents wanted me to get a good education. You had tutors for writing and maths and stuff, right?”

“Yes.”

“Well in the Muggle world, at least in Britain and other Western nations, education is free for all children. Well, the government pays for it with taxes.”

“Free education? For everyone? Why?”

“Why not?”

“What, so wealthy, high-class people in Muggle culture are taught alongside commoners?”

She sighed. “No. There are schools just for rich kids, that their parents pay for. The standard of education is generally higher than the free schools.”

“I should think so, if it's for the upper crust. If you're going to pay for education yourself, it better be a damn sight better than what the common rabble get.”

She rolled her eyes at his classism and went back to her work. As she sat there working on some theoretical models of potential failure modes for the ritual, Draco stared thoughtfully at her.

“What?” she asked him, when she noticed.

“It's just... I never knew Muggles were so good at maths. How far did you get in your classes?”

“Oh. Well, I was still in primary school, so we never officially got past stuff like long division, some algebra, fractions, and so on. But there was a public library I would go to at times, and they had books about maths, from higher grades. I think I was just starting pre-calculus when I got my Hogwarts letter.”

“I don't know what that means.”

“Well, from what I've seen of arithmancy books, I'd say it's fifth or sixth year arithmancy.”

“You were doing the equivalent of fifth or sixth year arithmancy when you were 11?” Draco asked, incredulous.

“I think so. I can't be sure, exactly. But I've kept going over the years. I've been devouring university-level maths textbooks ever since, and some of those make pre-calculus and even calculus look simple by comparison.”

Draco whistled in an impressed way. “Wow. Okay, we have to teach you Ancient Runes. You could do all sorts--”

“I'm in Ancient Runes already. It's one of my classes. I've been reading ahead there as well.”

“What level are you at?”

“I've been working with the sixth-year textbook lately, when I can.”

“Not surprising. You know, if you keep going on Ancient Runes, between that and the maths you can do in your head, you could become a master ward-cracker, even get a job as a curse-breaker for Gringotts.”

“I suppose so. Anyway, I'm ready to botch this ritual.” She got out her dicta-quill and spoke to it. “Objective: botch a magical ritual to glean more data for analysis of where the extra energy goes during such botched rituals. Test ritual: gaining enhanced hearing for ten minutes by sacrificing the ability to speak for ten minutes. First round will be a control.”

“Control? What's a control?”

“Meaning I'm going to do it properly the first time, so I know I can do it right. The second attempt will be the first deliberate botch.”

Draco watched, silent, as Hypatia did the control ritual, which worked perfectly. When she was able to speak again, she told him of how she'd heard mice in the walls, the snoring of all the students in Slytherin, and even a dripping faucet in one of the bathrooms.

Then, of course, it was time to botch the ritual. She did the ritual, and this time she couldn't speak for twenty minutes. For some reason, she took her glasses off within a minute of the ritual starting, only putting them back on when she could speak again. When she was done, she spoke to her dicta-quill.

“Result of botched spell: inability to speak for 20 minutes, only had enhanced hearing for five minutes. But I noticed my visual acuity went up noticeably for the entire duration. Interesting result.”

She did several more experiments with purposefully botching the ritual, messing it up a different way each time, writing down the results. Sometimes there were clear results, other times there was no noticeable result, even when she probed her body's abilities and the brain's contents. One of the botched rituals even hit Draco, rendering them both mute for a time.

“Well,” she said when she was done. “That's a lot of interesting data. Analysis isn't going to be easy. After all, some of those times, the energy could have gone shooting off at random and doing random things around the school for all I know. I'll have to keep my ears open for tales of anomalies.”

~ ~

They'd been working together again several times since the First Task had ended. The Yule Ball was fast approaching. As it did, Hypatia noticed Draco acting strange around her. One of these times, she looked up from her work.

“Why are you acting so weird lately, Draco? It's like you're not concentrating on our work.”

“Oh, well... it's just... well, I mean I know you never meet me outside of these night-time meetings of ours, but I have to ask you something.”

“What is it?”

“Um... the Yule Ball is coming up soon. I was wondering if you would be my date for the evening?”

That took the wind right out of her sails. She felt like laughing, though she also felt like crying. She suppressed both urges. Given her strange affect, either reaction would be confusing to him.

“I can't, Draco. I'm sorry, I just can't. I... I would if I could. But I can't.”

“Ah. I thought so. Well, I had to ask anyway.”

“I'm truly sorry, Draco.”

He half-grinned. “I know.”

They tried to go back to work, but neither could focus anymore. Finally, they switched from a 'working on stuff together' mode into 'just hanging out' mode.

~ ~

Things went mostly the same for her for months after that. Largely ignoring the plight of the others because she found their complaints about the warming charm to be annoyingly ridiculous, seeing as the obvious solution was to overpower the charm or use runes, she was focusing on her projects with Draco, which were ramping up. The puzzle in the Second Task she had figured out in less than a minute, and found everyone else's struggles with the childishly simple puzzle to be very amusing.

She was getting really good at ritual magic, with Draco's help. She was even working on ways to use her knowledge of ritual magic to help the others if something actually life-threatening came up again, as it was bound to. Her research into ritual magic so far that year had yielded some interesting results, and she was starting to improve on many of the rituals she knew about already, because she found flaws in their arithmancy, or places where a greater understanding of arithmancy – paired with the power of the multiple constructs she had for doing maths – could yield impressive results.

“As you can see here,” she said at one of these meetings with Draco, a week before the Easter holidays, “the sacrifices don't need to be related symbolically with their rewards, but can instead be broken down into simple units of power. There's still some limits, both hard and soft limits, but I've figured out how to distribute multiple smaller sacrifices to equal the sacrificial energy requirements of whatever ritual you want to use. My theory is that the symbolic connections most wizards think are inherent in ritual magic are only there to make it easier to remember and concentrate on, a bit like how people used to remember things by making them into poems or songs before reading became so common.

“Also, I can now plug ritual sacrifice energy into wand spells to super-chage them. What's more, I can bundle the energy from smaller sacrifices into a ritual. So for instance, instead of getting a migraine for an hour to have the power to lift a boulder by yourself with a super-charged levitation ritual, you can instead do a bundle of smaller sacrifices, such as the following bundle: get some slight back pain, give up the ability to speak for ten minutes, give up the ability to use a Summoning Charm for ten minutes, get a hand cramp for ten minutes, and some muscle weakness for 15 or 20 minutes.

“That's just one potential bundle, of course. The point is, arithmantically speaking, the multiple smaller sacrifices equal the cost of the larger sacrifice the ritual normally calls for. Of course it's trickier doing it that way, and more can go wrong if you mess it up, but given that some rituals demand rather a lot of you for their cost, it might be worth the risk in some cases to split the load rather than, for instance, cripple yourself for life.”

Draco looked impressed. “This is... amazing. I don't think I could possibly do one of these without a lot of planning ahead of time, though. But I think I just saw you adapt a ritual you'd never heard of before tonight in ten minutes, in your head. Am I right?”

She shrugged. “I guess so.”

Draco burst out laughing. Hypatia raised her eyebrow, and waited for the blond boy to calm down enough to explain.

“Oh my,” he said, wiping his eyes where they'd been watering with mirth. “Potter thinks he's so great, with that Granger on his side. Jokes on him, though; you're ten times the witch she is.”

She shrugged, uncomfortable. “I dunno. Hermione Granger is good at nearly everything she does. Aside from dropping out of Divination, her academic record is better-than-perfect scores in every subject. Well, then there's Potions, but that's more because Snape doesn't like her. Anyway, she's a Jill of all trades. Me, though? I'm good at Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, ritual magic, sneaking around, and learning languages. I'm average at everything else, though.”

Draco made a dismissive gesture and sound. “So what? Even if you're rubbish at everything else, you're so good at the things you're good at that it puts everything Granger does to shame. With your skills, you could probably even take on the dark lord himself and survive.”

“Er... that's high praise. Don't know if I'd go that far, myself. Anyway, I hope I never have to find out if you're right.”

Draco shuddered. “Me neither.”

She went back to her work, but he sat there watching her, silent for a long time before speaking at last.

“Hypatia?” Draco finally said, breaking the silence.

“Yes? What is it?”

“You know... I think I have it figured out, why you can't meet me in person in the daytime.”

She froze, her insides dropping, but said only, “Oh?”

“Yes. And well... I know I've said some things to Potter that might have made you think I wouldn't accept you for it, but I was only saying those things to Potter to get under their skin. Well, and I really did think those things then. But Professor Snape pointed out to me that I might be hurting people other than Potter, even some within Slytherin, with my words. And well... lately, some of the things you've said have made me wonder...”

“Wonder what?” she asked tremulously.

“Just, well... I don't want to presume, but... if you're... well, if you're transgender, I don't care about that. If you're in the closet about it, I understand. And I'm sorry I said those things to Potter. I never dreamed I might be hurting you with those words, too. But it makes sense, and it's the only explanation that does. I mean, you're a metamorphmagus, and since you're not out about it... well that would explain why I never see you during the day. I keep looking for a girl, and you're probably in disguise as a boy during the day. You might look nothing like this, even. Er... if I'm guessing right, that is.”

(Holy shit I dodged a bullet there,) she thought, finally releasing the breath she hadn't realized she was holding.

“Oh, uh... okay. Right,” she said. “Yeah, I didn't want to tell you, but you guessed it. Hypatia Williams, thought a boy since birth, was always secretly a girl, using her metamorphmagus powers to be her true self at night. I'm glad to know you feel that way. I'm sorry I couldn't tell you before. I was scared to be myself in the daytime. And Potter's fame, and that Skeeter woman didn't help any.”

“You know, my father knows Rita Skeeter. I could get him to lean on her to find something else about Potter to focus on than her gender status.”

She blinked at him. “You could do that? Without making your father suspicious?”

“Well, I can just tell him the truth, or part of it; I can tell him I have a transgender friend, and Skeeter's articles focusing on Potter's gender are making my friend more scared and uncomfortable than before.”

“Right. Well just as long as you don't out me to anyone.”

“I won't. And I don't expect you to visit with me in the daytime. I suppose you don't want to be seen by me while you're looking like a boy. And I've known you solely as a girl for so long, I might slip up and use the pronouns for your secret self. I don't want to do that to you, Hypatia.”

“Thank you. I appreciate that. If I ever get to come out in the daytime, to be myself at last, I'll look you up.”

Draco smiled. “Excellent. I hope you find the strength to do that. But I can wait. And if it never happens, I'll still be your friend.”

“Thank you.”

She sat there, her eyes on her work, but her mind elsewhere. The silence stretched on, until she finally broke it again.

“Draco?”

“Yes?”

“Knowing what you know now. Well... you once asked me to the Yule Ball. If I were to come out during the day... and there was another ball... would you still want to go with me?”

Draco smiled. “And have at my arm the cleverest, most intelligent girl I've ever met?” he said, taking her arm in a genteel manner and kissing her hand. “In a heartbeat.”

Far from comfort her, this threw her thoughts and feelings into greater turmoil. Because he still didn't know. He thought he did, but he didn't. She wanted to laugh, to scream maybe. He could never know the full truth. She had no idea how he would react to knowing she was one of the Potters, but she didn't think it would be good. Her friendship with him was built on a foundation of lies. That Draco thought he'd penetrated the lies and found the truth only made the treachery of it worse. Knowing the full truth, even if she got a chance to explain that she kept the others ignorant of her existence, that all her memories from the night were hers alone... it would still likely be the end of her only friendship.

And just like that, the feelings passed. Where they went, she didn't know. But they were replaced with a sort of apathetic resignation. The lies would continue. She had no other viable option, at this point, none that she could see.

“You know,” Draco said, pulling her out of her thoughts, “your talk of splitting up the sacrificial energy into smaller sacrifices has me thinking about a book Father told me about once. It's said to be in an un-crackable cipher. But I think I recall you mentioning that Muggles have worked out how to crack so-called un-crackable ciphers before, using maths. With your skills in arithmancy, there's a book you might be the first to benefit from in hundreds of years. It was lost for some centuries, then the goblins found it and they've been trying to crack it for a century at least, with no luck.”

“Aside from the challenge of trying to crack it, what might I get out of it?”

“There you go, thinking like a Slytherin again, you clever goddess. What you could get out of it, of course, is that it's said to be filled with some extremely powerful spells that involve human sacrifice, mostly of the willing variety. The person who wrote it was also trying to unlock the ability to sacrifice other people's magic in addition to or instead of one's own magic. Well technically that was already possible at the time, but it's rumored he was trying to do it without killing the people sacrificed. He never managed it, but he's said to have gotten quite a ways on it. Quite apart from anything else, if it could be made to work it would make group rituals a lot simpler.”

“How's that?”

“Well currently, if a bunch of people get together to do a ritual casting, they have to have equal levels of power and skill. That's not easy to measure in the first place, and even harder to find. Also, they have to sacrifice equal amounts of whatever they're sacrificing of themselves. Basically they're all doing separate rituals and trying to plug them all together. All those things together make group rituals about twenty times trickier than the trickiest single-person ritual. But with your advanced arithmancy skills and that ability to do complex maths in your head, if you could figure out how to adapt your 'smaller sacrifices bundle' finding to group rituals... you could rule the world with that kind of power!” His face briefly lit up with megalomaniacal glee.

“Rule the world?”

He quickly got his face back under control, in a somewhat catlike way. “As an example. I don't know the specifics of how much power that would be, or what you could do with it. But for an example, Mother told me tales in my youth of Merlin and Salazar Slytherin, two men of equal power, working together in battle to use a two-man ritual to defeat armies of hundreds of Muggle soldiers. They didn't do it more than a couple times, because it was extremely risky and difficult, but according to Mother, they got desperate enough to try it at least twice. There's even a rumor they botched a third attempt, and that their botched third attempt was what killed them both.”

“I don't want to kill anyone, Draco.”

“Well neither do I. I just don't have any better examples. You're the one who can think of clever things to do with magical power, what would you do with that kind of power?”

“I don't know. I also doubt two people, even at Merlin's level, could dredge up that much power between them. Not unless they were super-charging the Killing Curse or something like that.”

“What else might you be able to do with that kind of power, I wonder?”

“It's hard to say without the right information. I'd need to study this book you mentioned, crack the code and read the author's equations. But if I had to guess... estimating the kind of energy needed to kill 500 or more Muggles in one blow, with an enhanced Killing Curse... hmm... well I've always wondered if dementors can be killed? I mean, they're not technically alive. But they can breed after a fashion, like dry rot or fungi. And they don't like bright sunlight. But they can manipulate the local weather, in large groups; creating storms, making the temperature drop. Our third year there were at least 100 of them haunting the grounds, and the weather was more horrible than usual, with far more storms and the like. Given these facts, if they couldn't ever die in some way, they'd have overrun the planet a long time ago. There'd be nothing left but dementors if they couldn't die. But nobody's yet figured out how to kill one, to my knowledge.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“Well, if you could plug that kind of energy into a Patronus Charm, you could probably make a super-charged Patronus strong enough to kill dementors.”

“Yes, but you'd have to be able to cast a Patronus first.”

“Oh, I can.”

“You can? Really? I'd be interested to learn that one, if you're telling the truth.”

“Okay. Expecto Patronum!”

Her shining, shimmering cuttlefish Patronus appeared before them.

“WOW!” Draco nearly shouted. “That's incredible! What kind of creature is that, though?”

“It's called a cuttlefish. They're not technically fish, though. More closely related to squids and octopi. They're famous, at least among Muggles, for being able to change color and shape. They're incredible mimics. They can even pretend to be hermit crabs! They use it to hunt.”

Draco chuckled. “The perfect Patronus for a metamorphmagus, then.”

“Yeah, except it might out that particular ability to others.”

“Ah yes, there is that. But most wizards don't know cuttlefish, I think. At least, I doubt any of the purebloods would know of them.”

“Heh. I guess.”

“So you reckon you could super-charge a Patronus to kill dementors, not just scare them away?”

“Well I'd like to at least run the numbers to see if it's possible. And then, of course, attempt the spell and ritual to see if it would actually do that.”

“In that case, you'll need the book. I know of a bookstore in Knockturn Alley that would have it, and a few other hard-to-find books of a similar nature, that would benefit your research. And given how much they likely cost, I'd have to pay for them, or have Father do it.”

“What? No no, having him send you books from your private library is quite an imposition as is, I couldn't ask you to spend so much on me.”

“You're not asking, though; I am. I'm investing in you, Hypatia. It pays to invest in talent of your caliber. I don't know what you'll do with your life, Hypatia, but the possibilities are magnificent. I simply have to do everything I can to help you.”

She blinked, his words stopping her completely. “I... well, I suppose I can't refuse an investment like that.”

“Well you could, but you'd be mad to.”

She smiled. “Yes, I would. Alright then, order the books.”

“I'll start on the letter to Father right now.”

No sooner had he sat down to write the letter, though, than he was yawning.

“It's late. We both need to get some sleep,” Hypatia said.

“This won't take long.”

“Well if you want to stay up to write the letter, go ahead. But it really is late, and I really do need to get going.”

“Can't you just stay here for the night? I can set up a camp bed for you or something.”

“Right, a Ravenclaw who's a closeted trans girl spending the night in the Slytherin dorms, sleeping. That'd go over so well. Flitwick would be thrilled, of course. And Snape--”

“Yeah okay, I get it. Big trouble. A thousand points from Ravenclaw, probably five hundred from Slytherin for my letting you do it. I'll see you in a couple days, okay?”

“Sure thing,” she said, slipping the invisibility cloak back on. “Bye, Draco!”

“Bye, Hypatia!”

~ ~

The note they'd left her had been annoying. She didn't know how they'd figured it out, but she thought the best response was no response at all, and ignored the note, doing her utmost to leave no trace of her presence behind for them to find. But it hadn't worked; they were still suspicious, and told McGonagall about their suspicions. Nosy brats.

So, to get back at them in a passive-aggressive sort of way, she switched to Tier's old form of the body before going to bed, and turned off his and Zoey's powers. It was stupid, she knew they'd suspect her even more, but she was angry and trying to send them a message: don't bother me.

Naturally, it didn't work. Worse, Tier told Ron his suspicions. Hermione didn't see the rest of the note, though, so that annoyingly clever meddler probably didn't know, which was a good thing. In a snit, Hypatia left them that way for two weeks before returning them back to normal.

~ ~

Her plan with Draco ended up not being quite so simple as they'd hoped. Mr. Malfoy had been under a lot more scrutiny from certain Ministry employees since the Chamber of Secrets business, and could not be seen going to Knockturn Alley without sufficiently good reason to risk it; fueling the curiosity of one of Draco's friends about a book that was likely impossible to decipher wasn't his idea of a worthy enough reason to risk his reputation.

Still, between the two of them, they came up with a clever alternative. Hypatia would be going to London for Easter, and Knockturn Alley was in London. Mr. Malfoy had ways of paying people that didn't trace back to him, even with the incredibly high price of this rare book, so he finally agreed to finance the scheme if this friend of Draco's was willing to risk themselves for this research project of theirs. He didn't exactly approve of a 14 year old witch going to Knockturn Alley, but when Draco assured him that she could disguise herself very cleverly (hinting at her being a metamorphmagus but never saying it outright), he finally gave in and sent them the money order to use. She had asked Draco how his father knew how much to make the order out for, and Draco shrugged, replying “Maybe his contacts got him the price.” Then he gave her his own bag of gold to cover any difference there might be.

And so, armed with a list, a location, and her knowledge of wandless magic (which would register as accidental magic and thus fool the Trace), she got up the first night of Easter at Sirius's house, thought about using the invisibility cloak, decided it would attract the attention of thieves, and Disillusioned herself instead.

The wards were a challenge even for her, and it took her an hour of hard work, utilizing five different constructs to run different sets of equations, but eventually she worked out how to get past the wards without setting off the alarms. She would of course later discover, to her anger, that she'd overlooked an important detail in her analysis of the wards: the surveillance wards could see through Disillusionment Charms. But for then she slipped out, unaware she'd made a mistake.

When out of sight of the building the flat was in, she hid in a dark alley and transformed to her own form of the body, then Disillusioned herself again because the transformation had broken her earlier Disillusionment. Disillusioned again, she set off for Knockturn Alley.

Hypatia ducked into another alley just before getting to The Leaky Cauldron. She couldn't apparate yet, and the staff and/or patrons would notice a 14 year old girl out this late at night. She couldn't afford to stand out at all, so she tapped into Tier's abilities and made herself look older, in her mid 30's, and less distinctive by giving herself plainer glasses and black hair instead of her usual white hair. Thus disguised, she went into The Leaky Cauldron...

...only to find it empty. She shrugged; the disguise was still a good idea, so she kept it on. She went back to the back of the building where the wall into Diagon Alley was, and used her wand to activate the brick.

Diagon Alley at night was... a little creepy, but the night-time lights in the shop windows lent it a cozy kind of creepiness, if that makes any sense. It was, at least, a lot cozier than Knockturn Alley. Though Knockturn was largely dead in the daytime, it exploded with life at night. The lights, such as they were, were often blood red or dark purple, casting more shadows than they banished. But the place was packed with witches and wizards skulking around, their wands lit or carrying weird light sources like a lantern made from a human skull. Hypatia herself used no lights, not trusting she could make one without setting off the Trace. Instead, she used Tier's powers again and gave herself keen night vision. She was sure her eyes would glow with sufficient light, but that wasn't a huge concern yet. Getting to the right shop and getting home again safe, that was what mattered.

Despite her lack of lighting, or perhaps because of it, people kept glancing at her. Some even leered at her, which made her so uncomfortable that she quickly put together and cast a bit of ritual magic (which should also fool the Trace), sacrificing a dozen insignificant things to give her what she decided to call a 'Don't Notice Me' spell. She wasn't invisible or Disillusioned, which would be a huge hassle with the crush of bodies in this place, but instead, people saw her but weren't interested. She was like a bit of the background, seen but not noticed. They even moved out of her way as she walked, and they were clearly unaware that they'd even done so. She knew that if anyone asked them why they'd done it, they'd be baffled.

The shop she went to was tiny, and the few books on display were all locked up tight in wooden cabinets with unbreakable glass fronts. Given some of the prices on them, she wasn't surprised.

Her 'Don't Notice Me' wasn't strong enough to keep working if she did something to deliberately get someone's attention; it was ephemeral, and would burst like a bubble when she did.

“Hey, anyone here in this dump?” she said aloud. She noticed a little bell, and rang it a couple times.

“Eh shet it, lashie, Ah heerd ya tha firsht time ya shpoke. Hold onna yar breeches, I ent ash young ash Ah used ta beh.”

From around a corner in the back came (very, very slowly) a person, gender indecipherable, of such great age and decrepitude that they made Dumbledore look like a young Olympic athlete by comparison. The person, who was probably the shop keeper, looked like they were made entirely of beef jerky that had shriveled even further by some sort of dark magic until their nose was nearly touching the ground. If they'd introduced themselves as being an Incan mummy animated by magic, Hypatia would have had no problem at all believing it.

The shop keeper was stumping along on a pair of crutches made of wood more gnarled and hideous than they were, moving along so slowly that a slug could probably lap them twice in a race. Luckily, the shop keeper didn't have far to go. In no more than five agonizingly slow minutes, they were standing in front of Hypatia. Then, so suddenly it made her jump, the floor jumped up under the shriveled old store owner, bringing their eyes up level with Hypatia's own.

“'Not as young as you used to be'?” she said. “That's the understatement of the century. If you were any older, you'd be able to tell me stories about your grandson Merlin.”

She quickly covered her own mouth, unsure why she was being so flippant. But the old shop-keep just chuckled in a wheezy way, exactly like she imagined a mummy would sound as it tried to get the dust out of its leathery lungs.

“Ah likesh ya, lashie. Not afeered a makin a jerk at ern old man'sh ekshpensh, en laffer'sh all Ah gotsh left that worksh enemar. What kern Ah do yeh fer?”

“I have a list of books to get. My contacts tell me you have them.”

She passed him the list and he got out an enormous magnifying glass to examine it, even though it was written in large letters and he was wearing glasses with lenses as thick as her fist.

“Hoo boy datsh a heck erv a lisht yeh got thar. Gerna corsht yeh a perty shickle. Lemme she har, how mushud dat be? Ah heer we arr, twenty-nine thoushand galleonsh fer the lot.”

“WHAT? Twenty-nine... thousand... galleons!?”

“Yeh. Shuper rare, dat wun berk. Da uddersh ent cheap nyder.”

She realized then that she hadn't looked at Mr. Malfoy's money order. She did now, and found she was 1000 galleons short. She looked in Draco's gold bag and found only 94 galleons in it.

“Counter-offer: Twenty-eight thousand galleons.”

“Heh, right. Ah'd be takin a losh at that prysh. Caint do et, lashie.”

“I thought we were haggling here.”

“Ah don't haggle.”

“Listen, all I have on me is twenty-eight thousand and 94 galleons.”

The shop-keep stroked his chin, apparently thinking. “Well... thash a bit clohsher. Shtill nearly a thoushand galleonsh short.”

She silently berated herself then for not bringing her own cheques. Not that she wanted to link the others to this purchase for a couple of huge reasons, but still...

“Could I make up the difference with a bit of knowledge?”

“Knowledge? Hmm... Ah'm curioush what yeh think'd be werf nearly a thoushand galleonsh, lashie.”

“How about a formula for replacing big sacrifices in ritual magic with an array of smaller sacrifices?”

His eyes weren't very visible behind his thick glasses, but she still saw his eyebrows go up.

“Well now if yeh can delifer on that, lashie, Ah'd take that deal. Yeh got et on yeh?”

She pulled a parchment out of her robes and – hoping that being in the thick of Knockturn Alley would fool the Trace – she tapped it with her wand. The parchment instantly filled up with a very long and complicated equation that filled both sides. She tapped another parchment to include explanations of some of the more esoteric parts of the formula.

The shop keeper looked over both parchments and whistled appreciatively.

“Carn't shay Ah unnershtand mosht erv thish here, but Ah grashp enough erv it where I'll take yer deal. Where'sh the uver twenty-eight thoushand and 94 galleonsh?”

Hypatia handed over the money order and the contents of Draco's coin purse. The old man nodded. Then he snapped his fingers and a very young looking house elf appeared.

“Bitsy is here, Master. How can Bitsy be of service?”

“Get theesh booksh, Bitshee. Yeh know where they are?”

“Of course, Master. Bitsy will be right back in a jiffy.”

With a crack, the elf disappeared, and the old man got out a lock box and started dropping the money through a slot in the top. By the time he finished, Bitsy was back with a pile of books. She handed Hypatia the books and the list.

“Here you is, Miss. You is paid him, right?”

“Yesh, Bitshee, the lashie paid me. Ah just put et all en da boksh. Enjoy yer perchash, lashie. Been shwell doin bishnesh wif yeh.”

“Just a moment, I had a question for Bitsy.”

“What is you wanting to ask me?”

“Can you read, then?”

“Bitsy can read, yes. Well enough to read the titles, anyway. It is being an uncommon thing, house elves knowing how to read.”

“That's what I thought. Well thank you, both of you.”

“Bye, lashie!”

She wrapped her purchase up in twine and re-cast her 'Don't Notice Me' before leaving. Getting back home and into her bedroom was a lot easier. Having already cracked the wards, slipping in again took half the time and a fourth the effort. Once in her bedroom, she wrote a letter to add to the bundle of books for Draco, who was better able to keep them until school. Also, his father wanted to keep the originals and give her copies, which made more sense now than ever before.

Dear Draco,

Twenty-nine THOUSAND galleons! I've never spent so much money in my life! I don't think my parents have had as much money in their whole lives! Oh yeah, your dad underestimated the price by 1000 galleons, and your coin purse only had 94 galleons in it. I had to give the old man my formula for bundled sacrifices to make up the difference. Though the fact he thought it was worth 1000 galleons is flattering.

Man, I've never seen someone so old. He could make Egyptian mummies look young and spry by comparison!

Anyway, here's the books. I've put Imperturbable Charms on them. If they get lost or stolen or damaged en route, please don't take it out of my hide; I don't think I could ever repay a debt that huge. That said, let me know when you get them safe so I can stop worrying.

All for now. I gotta get these sent off before it's too late. See you after the holidays!

Sincerely,
Hypatia Williams

The letter done, she went to another room so owls wouldn't come to the bedroom while the others were Out, sent it and the package off to Draco, switched back to Adira's form of the body, and went back to sleep.

~

“And there ends the story so far,” Chandra finished, looking calmly at Dumbledore and Sirius.

The two men were staring, stunned by the story. Dumbledore was the first to recover his wits.

“Could we please meet Hypatia in person, Chandra?”

“I shall try, Silver Grandfather. She is rather upset at the moment. Years she went unsuspected, and suddenly in one night she makes a mistake and is exposed. But I will try.”

He closed his eyes, his expression calm except for occasional twitches of Adira's face. Then, with no glow at all, Adira's face and body changed to that of a black girl with glasses and white dreadlocks. She looked miserable, and the moment she appeared, she hugged her legs tight to her body.

“Welcome, Ms. Williams,” Dumbledore said.

She did not respond.

Snapping out of his own stunned silence at last, Sirius suddenly shouted, “You sold that formula to a store in Knockturn Alley that deals in books about dark magic? Are you MAD? What if Voldemort gets hold of that?”

Jerking back in fright, Hypatia began laughing into her arms, the miserable laughter Chandra had described. It was very different from normal laughter indeed; it sounded superficially the same, but there was something off about it that did not have a happy sound to it.

“Sirius, please do not yell. This needs to be handled delicately.”

He sighed. “Sorry, Dumbledore. Sorry, Hypatia.”

It took Hypatia several minutes to stop her sorrowful laughter and look up. The next words came from her mouth but weren't hers.

“If he's going to get them, it would be through the Malfoys, surely? This is Al, by the way.”

Dumbledore and Sirius looked at each other. But before they could say anything, Hypatia spoke in her own words this time.

“Don't be stupid. I haven't given Draco any copies of the formula. Even if I did, he wouldn't understand half of it. There's a lot of Muggle maths in it, well past his level of skill.”

“Do not worry, Sirius,” Dumbledore said. “I will take care of it. I know the shop in question, and the owner owes me some favors from decades ago. And he will want to pore over it first, and make copies, before he sells it.”

“Well that's something, I guess. But ritual magic? I knew that Malfoy boy was a bad egg.”

“He's not, though,” Hypatia said defensively. “The face he shows most people is different from his true face. He's got a lot of expectations to live up to, with who he is. His parents have their expectations, the Slytherins have theirs, the rest of the school has various expectations. He was upset when Harry rejected his friendship on the train, and he's got himself convinced he doesn't care about that. But I think all he ever wanted was to be Harry's friend. Now, though, years of playing the role he dug himself into in his upset keeps getting reinforced by Al's and Chandra's behavior, among others. He's resentful. It's something he and I have in common, that resentment, even though the causes are different.”

“But he's got you into the dark arts!” Sirius said.

“Don't be dense! Weren't you paying attention to the story Chandra told you? It was Chandra who introduced me to ritual magic, not Draco. So what do you think of that?” She glared at them both defiantly, her arms crossed.

She didn't let them answer, though, interrupting with, “There's nothing inherently bad about most ritual magic anyway, just because it's tricky and dangerous. Wand magic is tricky and dangerous too. And I would've gone researching ritual magic anyway, even without Draco or any other person you've decided to be prejudiced against, both of you!”

“Be that as it may, Ms. Williams,” Dumbledore said, “you really shouldn't be dabbling in dangerous magics. Some of the rituals you've gotten into are indeed dark, and illegal.”

“Willingly sacrificing something of your own to get something in exchange is dark now, is it? This is exactly why I never wanted to be out in the open, because adults have these ridiculous arbitrary rules against things because they're too scared or too incompetent to do them correctly, and so therefore they just ban it. Anything that gives them the slightest bit of difficulty, anything that takes slightly more effort or thought than they're willing to put into something, and into the ban bin it goes! Adults are so infuriating! And the word 'adult' is so fitting, too, either way you pronounce it. Pronounce it one way, it sounds like 'a dolt.' Another way, and it sounds like 'addled.' I hope I never become one. Zoey has the right idea, refusing to grow any older. Sounds like something I should copy.”

Sirius opened his mouth to speak, but Dumbledore stopped him, shaking his head.

“Pardon us a moment, Hypatia.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

The two adults went into another room, where Hypatia couldn't see or hear them.

“What is it, Dumbledore?”

“What she said just now reminded me of some details in Chandra's telling of her story. I do not believe it wise to antagonize Hypatia.”

“What? Why not?”

“If you will recall from Chandra's story about her, she has a remarkable amount of control over the internal workings of the Potter collective. Writing and re-writing memories, being able to make modified copies of the others and pretending to be them, modifying her own personality as she pleases, even pulling Alastair back inside when he was having a fit... these details and others speak to a dangerous amount of power. Who knows what she could do if provoked? She could make all the others vanish and take over the body entirely if she wanted.”

“Really? I mean, yes, she does seem to have a lot of power, but that much? I'm not so sure, Dumbledore. I remember the story, too, and Chandra mentioned that Mother can pull individuals back or push them forward. There were other details that make me think it's possible Hypatia and Mother have equal amounts of power, or possibly Hypatia's power is second to Mother's.”

“I do not know, Sirius. Perhaps you're right. But...” he paused, turning to look around.

“What is it, Dumbledore?”

“I do not know. Perhaps I'm being paranoid, given what we just heard, but I think it likely Hypatia may be spying on us.”

At these words, Hypatia walked forward, revealing herself. She was glaring at them, her arms folded across her chest.

“You think I'm some kind of monster, don't you? You think I'd delete the others like bad computer programs just because I got caught, don't you? Well you can relax on that front, both of you, because I don't have that kind of power. Pulling someone Inside, shutting off parts of their powers, slipping some false memories in to cover my tracks, or slipping in minor compulsions is the limit of my powers. I can create and destroy constructs, but I can't create or destroy any of the Faces. Anything with a Spark is largely autonomous.

“Honestly, if I had the kind of power you're worried I have, we wouldn't be in this mess to begin with, because I would have deleted any suspicions from their minds if I could. And I sure as Hell wouldn't delete any of the others, no matter how much I dislike them, because that would be murder, which is Wrong.

“And anyway, I'm reasonably certain Mother has the power to overrule me anyway. After all, She created Chandra, who has a Spark. I can't do that, only She can. If I could do that, I would still be safely hidden away creating my own friends in the dark parts of this brain.”

“Thank you for that, Hypatia, I do feel better now. But you are still doing illegal dark magic.”

“Yes, and there's nothing you can do to stop me without it also affecting the others. Which you won't do, because you're trying to forge us into a weapon against Voldemort.”

Dumbledore blinked. “Pardon?”

“Oh please, don't lie. It's obvious. In first year, those supposed obstacles you had guarding the Philosopher's Stone were ridiculously easy. So easy that several first year children – 11 and 12 year olds – got by them without too much difficulty, using information that conveniently came up during lessons that year. And really, it's strange that Voldemort didn't just blast through everything like a wrecking ball. Even weak, he was riding around in Quirrell, who should've been able to manage it pretty well. That suggests a trap set for Voldemort. But since no trap went off, and he got away, clearly you wanted us to face him in something of a controlled environment. Only it backfired on you, and we nearly died. Hell, the damned door to Fluffy's room wasn't even properly locked!”

Sirius looked ill and livid. He rounded on Dumbledore. “Is that all true, Dumbledore?”

Dumbledore looked like he didn't know what to say or do, like he was thinking very quickly. Then he sighed, and looked down at the ground.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time. I did not anticipate you being able to get the stone out of the Mirror of Erised. Very few people would be capable of that.”

Sirius's face was growing red-hot with anger at this. “ARE YOU MAD, DUMBLEDORE? Why the bloody hell would you risk their lives that way?”

“At the time, they had the protection of their mother's sacrifice to protect them. So I felt it was safe.”

“Yes, and that doesn't make any sense either. If it was that simple to save someone from the Killing Curse, I wouldn't be the first to survive it, I'd be the millionth or billionth person to survive it. Honestly, I suspect Lily probably used some kind of ritual magic; she knew she'd have to die to protect us, and she did some kind of ritual to trade her life for mine. Ours. You know what I mean.”

“As to that, Hypatia, I do not know. Though Lily did have an attitude very similar to yours, in that she thought many of the types of magic illegal in this country should be legal. It was something we disagreed on.”

Just then, an eagle owl screeched and flew into the room. It landed on a chair back and glared at Dumbledore and Sirius.

“It is for you, Hypatia.”

Hypatia took the letter and opened it. She read it silently, and then aloud.

Dear Hypatia Williams,

We received your package, and will find a way to get it to you in Hogwarts, since you are unable to keep it with yourself. Do not worry about the cost; if what Draco says about you is true, it is a worthy investment, which I have no doubt will pay tremendous dividends back in the future. If you are able to crack the code of the book, that alone will more than make up the cost, and be of tremendous profit if you should choose to share it with my son.

As to being short, you should have insisted on haggling. The old man... I know him, and so I can assure you he ripped you off by deliberately raising the price. He was doubtless hoping you would have something to trade that would make up the difference. That formula is worth the entire price of those books, and he knew that from the start. I shall be paying him a visit to retrieve your property and erase the knowledge of it from his stupid little mind.

If you are worried I will copy the formula myself, you need not do so. I know too many people in whose hands I do not wish to see such power fall, and so I will be employing occlumency to keep what little I know of the formula away from them.

I have no doubt, Hypatia Williams, that you will one day become a great sorceress whose powers will someday rival, perhaps even exceed, those of the Dark Lord himself. I suggest that, like many great witches and wizards from history, you keep the bulk of your work secret, sharing it only with those you trust the most. There are not many in the world with the skills or the raw power to utilize your arrayed sacrifice method, but many of the ones who do posses those talents are very dangerous people, people I do not trust with such power, and neither should you. There is one in particular that I am concerned about, more so than ever these days. Be very careful not to catch his eye, Ms. Williams.

Expect another owl by nightfall, Ms. Williams, with the parchment you gave him and all copies he has made. I swear on my magic that I will return this formula to you and keep it away from anyone other than yourself and my son, should you choose to share the details of it with him.

Yours in fellowship,
Lord Lucius Malfoy

Dumbledore had his wand out and was hitting the bird with a spell the moment she was finished, before it could fly off. The bird looked very confused.

“Just a confusion charm,” Dumbledore said. “I will send this bird home with its memory modified, Hypatia. Owls cannot speak, but they are still clever enough it might find a way to tell its master you were with us.”

Dumbledore left the room as he said, with the bird. Hypatia folded up the letter and put it in her pocket. The next few minutes were silent and awkward, neither she nor Sirius talking.

“You don't really trust him not to keep a copy of that for himself, do you?” Sirius finally asked her.

“What letter were you listening to? He plainly wants to forget he ever heard of the formula. He's terrified of Voldemort returning, or was that not obvious?”

“That could be a ruse.”

“Draco's mum never supported Voldemort. Never defied him either. From what I gather from my talks with Draco, though, his father started having second thoughts about being a Death Eater once Draco was born. And in the 13 years Voldemort has been gone, Lucius apparently decided 'good riddance.' But it's odd... my impression was that Lucius thought Voldemort dead. Now he seems convinced the berk is coming back. He must know something we don't. Which would fit with that vision we had in August.”

“The owl is attended to,” Dumbledore said as he came back.

“Good. Now we can get back to our chat about how you're trying to forge us into a weapon against Voldemort.”

“Yes, Dumbledore, let us indeed talk of that again,” Sirius said, crossing his arms.

“I admit that in the first year I let you face Voldemort. I did not anticipate you being able to get the stone out of the mirror, which would likely have meant they were simply frustrated long enough for me to waltz in and trap them both. If you recall, I came in right after you killed Quirrell, just before you passed out. If you had been unable to get the stone out of the mirror, like I had planned, the two of you would not have fought; you would have still been tied up and Quirrell would still have been scratching his head at the Mirror.

“Of course, it did not work out that way. And then you did not go back to the Dursleys, so you no longer had the protection of your mother's sacrifice, however it was that happened. Thus, I can say I did indeed suspect a basilisk, but since I had no idea where the Chamber's entrance was, I couldn't send any aurors there to deal with it. Thus, your second meeting with Voldemort was entirely unplanned on my part, and unwanted. Alastair broke his promise to me.”

“You didn't think it just a little obvious that the bathroom Moaning Myrtle was killed in was the entrance?”

“No, I did not. Myrtle Warren's ghost did not answer any questions about her death, she was too upset about it. She soon took to haunting one of girls who had made fun of her before she'd died. It was years before the girl was able to get a restraining order against Myrtle, and by then it no longer seemed important.”

“And you didn't think to ask her when it happened again?”

“Fifty years had passed; I admit I forgot about it for most of the year. When I did think about it, I decided there was no point; she was still known to cry at the drop of a hat. I was astonished to find she'd told you about it. Of course, when I thought about it, I suspected as you did, that the entrance was in her bathroom, but I did not seek to confirm it. What would I have done if I had found it? I was afraid to ask any of you to open the Chamber in case the basilisk came popping out of the thing to kill us both, and the only other Parselmouths I had any inkling about were all in India. It would have meant getting the Ministry involved, and if they'd known there was a basilisk in the school, they would have shut down the school for sure. In fact, they still don't know about the basilisk. I never told them. Mainly because it's still alive, and has been there for 1000 years with only two incidents, and only one death.”

“What if that thing had come into the Great Hall during dinner?”

“That was unlikely. Voldemort would not want to kill purebloods or even half-bloods, unless they were also blood traitors. And as Chandra pointed out from the story of your memories, Hypatia, the basilisk did not want to attack students at all. Now it is on our side, so it's even less likely to be a problem.

“Anyway, enough about my failings. We were originally discussing what to do about you.”

“Yes. And I was telling you that you can't punish me without punishing the others.”

“I could always take the books away from you when I find them.”

“I doubt you could do it fast enough to beat me to the information. Which would render your confiscation of the books moot. And you can't stop me experimenting with forbidden magic without getting your weapon against Voldemort, you little Chosen One, expelled or thrown into Azkaban. And anyway, isn't any possible edge against Voldemort a good thing?”

Dumbledore stared at Hypatia. She felt a tingle that said he was using legilimency on her. She kept staring at him.

He blinked first, and sighed. “I hate to say it, but you do have an excellent point. And we are not in school right now, so points cannot be taken. Any other punishment I could do would hurt the others, who were ignorant of your doings. So I will punish you the only way I have left. Swear to me on your magic that you will do all you can to protect yourself and the other Potters, even if it means talking and cooperating with them to save them.”

She sighed. “Fine. I swear by my magic that I will do all I can to protect myself and the other Potters in the collective, even if that means I have to talk with them and cooperate with them to save them from danger. Happy now?”

“Yes,” Dumbledore said. “And now I think I shall return to Hogwarts.”

“Fine by me. But before you go, I should tell you that the whole 'exploding' thing was really annoying me, so I worked out what was causing it and fixed it. No more explosions.”

“Excellent,” Dumbledore said, smiling and twinkling at her, but she was immune to his grandfatherly charm, and just continued to glare at him.

Sirius looked confused. “I want to know how this Draco boy is able to send owls to you when your body's name isn't really Hypatia Williams.”

Instead of answering, she huffed and vanished, being replaced with Adira.

Adira stood there, looking dazed. “I... I'm gonna go lay down for a while, Sirius. I need to think.”

“You do that, pup. I could do with some of that myself.”

~

At the kitchen table in the round kitchen of her home, Luna Lovegood sat thinking while she waited for her father to finish making his gurdyroot tea. When he approached the table and poured her a cup, she was still lost in thought.

“Infestation of wrackspurts, my moonbeam?”

“What? Oh sorry, Daddy. I was just thinking.”

“Lost in thought instead? Good. Wrackspurts can be very vexing.”

Xeno waited, sipping his gurdyroot tea. He waited because he knew his daughter would talk about what she was thinking about if and when she was ready. And he thought she was nearly there.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, Luna my love?”

“What are your thoughts on people who are romantically interested in members of their own gender?”

Xeno sipped his tea again, thinking what to say. “Well, my moonbeam, I think it's like someone's taste in food or drink. For instance, you and I love gurdyroot tea, but a lot of other witches and wizards think it tastes horrendous. There's nothing wrong with not liking gurdyroot tea, of course. To each their own, you know.”

He paused, thinking some more before adding, “And as much as I'm glad we can share this tea, if your tastes changed and you no longer liked it, I would understand. Then too, people can like gurdyroot tea and still like other teas as well. And it just occurred to me this metaphor leaves much to be desired.”

Luna smiled. “I understand your meaning. I'm glad to hear that, Daddy.”

Xeno waited some more, still sipping his tea. She stared at her cup for several minutes before looking up at him.

“Do you remember me writing you about Iliana Potter?”

“Ah yes, the Potters. Fascinating group of people, I really must meet them sometime. Iliana is the one who helped ward your possessions against theft, correct?” She nodded. “Good. She sounds a lovely girl, a wonderful friend. As I recall, you also danced with her at the Yule Ball?”

“Yes, I did.”

“Excellent. So what about Miss Potter? What was on your mind, moonbeam?”

She sipped some of her tea to give herself time to think. “Do you remember I told you she exploded?”

“Yes, quite the odd phenomenon, that. I do hope she can get that under control.”

“Yes, me too. Anyway, it seems to happen if she gets overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. The first time it happened, they were all so excited for Christmas that they fought for control of their body and resulted in an explosion. The second time... I didn't tell you in my letter, but the second time was because she has feelings for me, of the romantic sort, and was scared to tell me. She didn't want to risk my not wanting to be her friend anymore, but she also couldn't keep her feelings to herself. The conflict made her explode.”

“I see. That explains your first question. But there's more, isn't there?”

“Yes. Because I realized I had some sort of feelings for her, too. I think it's the same ones she has for me. I didn't even realize they were there until she told me hers. I'm still not sure what I'm feeling.”

Xeno nodded. “Feelings are sometimes like that, my moonbeam.”

“I know I had fun at the dance. I was glad she asked me to come to the ball, even if it was wasn't as a date. She didn't know her feelings at the time, she told me. She just knew she wanted to see me have some fun. And I did. Especially when we danced – really danced – together. The spinning and twirling, holding each other close, and then by accident we did a perfect dip, and were looking into each other's eyes. I felt something then, but I don't know what it was. Before I could even start to try to identify it, she got very awkward and nervous, and she ran off to switch to one of the others. Which left me a little sad and disappointed, to be honest.”

She sipped her tea again, then continued, “She had a difficult time telling me her feelings, in the hospital wing when I was visiting her. So hard a time that I thought she didn't want to be friends anymore. But when I told her I would understand if she didn't want to be friends anymore, even though it would make me sad, she burst into tears, hugged me tight, and confessed her feelings.”

“That poor dear girl, putting herself through all that worry.”

“Yes, quite. Well you can imagine, I'm sure, how relieved I was to hear that. But I couldn't quite believe it, either. I mean, I don't much comb my hair, and I know I look odd even before you count my unusual beliefs and behaviors. And for years I never had any friends at all. Then suddenly my one real friend tells me she has feelings for me. Romantic feelings. I never thought anyone would ever have feelings like that for me. And I never thought it would be another girl, nor that I'd feel things for another girl myself.

“And of course, I'm just not sure what I'm feeling, even now. I had fun at the ball with her, and we had a lovely date at Hogsmeade, holding hands and sitting together against the tree on the hill. It was nice. I think it might be the seed of love, if not love itself yet. Well obviously I love her as a friend, but I mean it might be the seed of a different kind of love. I just don't know.”

Xeno put his cup down and set his hand on hers. “Don't worry if you don't know what you're feeling, my moonbeam. Just take your time and let the feelings wash over you. Enjoy your time with her, whatever it means. You don't need to label it. Or rather, if you do, there's no rush. The label, if you need one, will come in its own time.” A thought occurred to him then, and he frowned a little, adding, “she isn't pressuring you into anything, is she?”

“Oh no, Daddy. Quite the opposite. When I took her up to the top of the hill, she got all flustered and asked me why I brought her there. I'm pretty sure she just wants to take it slow as well. I think she's still sorting out her feelings, too.”

“Well as long as she isn't expecting you to jump right into snogging, or something more serious. Oh my, I'm going to have to give you The Talk, aren't I? Oh, and this complicates that. I feel silly, now, for not taking this possibility into consideration before.”

“You can take some time to think about it, Daddy. We won't be doing anything like that anytime soon. I don't even think kissing will happen for another month or so, if not longer. I mean, I could be wrong, but I very much doubt either of us will be ready for more than that.” Her brow burrowed in thought a moment, and she added, “I wonder what two girls can do together beyond kissing and groping?”

Xeno chuckled. “Well maybe we should pop over to London this afternoon. I know the Muggles have some lovely big libraries in London. There's a library in the village of course, but I doubt it's big enough to have the information we seek, given what I know of what this nation's Muggles think of same-gender relationships. But the London libraries ought to be big enough.”

“Ooh, and could we visit Iliana when we do, Daddy?”

“Splendid idea, my darling daughter. I wanted to meet them anyway, but now I can play the concerned father and ask her what her intentions with my daughter are.”

“Can we go this afternoon?”

“Ah, well, as to that, both my owls are on deliveries at the moment. Do you know where they live? We could fire-call them if you do. Otherwise we'd have to wait until either Huginn or Muginn get back.”

Luna pulled a small bit of parchment out of her pocket. “Iliana wrote down her address for me just before I headed down to the train station. It's right here.”

“Well, let's fire-call them, shall we?”

~

The others didn't know what to do about this Hypatia or her story. Al and Adira were angry with Chandra for not telling them, and spent a lot of time internally yelling at him. He stood calmly before this onslaught and waited for a chance to speak.

When it came, he said, ~What would have me say, Sarcastic Defender and First Among Us? I would never go back on an oath, and what is more, I was unable to do so even if I had wanted to.~

What do you mean?

~Do you remember the part of the story where I mentioned the day/night nature of my memories and abilities?~

Yes. What about it?

~My memories of Aunt Megan were of the night, of the time when we were all asleep normally. I did not remember her at all during Moon At Day, so I was unable to tell you even if I had wanted to. But once her existence came to light, those memories shifted to Moon At Day. There is much that remains hidden in Moon At Night even now, I know that much.~

I don't really get that whole business. What's the point of some of your memories being hidden away like that? And now we know about Hypatia, can't she retrieve those for you?

~It is not her place to do so. Mother guards those. She has her reasons for the wall of memory. I do not know all of them, but one reason is Voldemort, and that is sufficient reason, at least until we can guard our mind.~

What about him? He's still a wraith.

~Yes, but he will not remain so forever. He can read minds. And the connection between us and him means that when he has full power again, he will be able to read our own minds from great distances. This is why Silver Grandfather teaches us to occlude our mind.~

WHAT?! Moldyshorts could do that?!

~Yes.~

How do you know?

~I know because you are not the only Seer among us. Though your visions are of the future, and thus hard to summon, while my own – once unlocked fully – will be the ability to divine some things about the present and possibly the past. Which in some ways will be easier, and in other ways will be much more difficult.~

Visions of the present? Like that dream about Moldyshorts? Was that your doing?

~No. That was the Bridge-Bewixt-Foes that resides in our scar; such visions will be more plentiful when he returns, unless we can occlude our minds first. I mean things like tarot cards, casting bones, reading runes, reading tea leaves, star gazing, even other more esoteric means. Things which do not always speak clearly.~

Oh that rubbish of Trelawney's?

~The Bangled Bug is full of egotism that clouds her inner eye. Most divination tools will work well enough for her if she makes room in her mind by pouring some of that ego away. It is not rubbish because one individual is poor at a thing. If it were, Potions would be rubbish for Angry Vulture Man's flaws and foibles. Besides which, you already know you are a Seer.~

Yeah, one just as good as Trelawney, it seems. I had one vision, one! I haven't been able to recreate the experience.

~Because you too are full of ego. And you need a true teacher.~

Yeah I know. I keep meaning to look for one, but I keep getting distracted.

~When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.~

I'm ready NOW!

~I beg to differ.~

This is infuriating! YOU are infuriating! You are the GOD of being infuriating!

~Namaste.~ Chandra said, giggling as though he'd told Al a funny joke.

This argument continued for quite a long time, meandering around but finally getting back to the crux of the matter, to the whole business with Hypatia. Which, in the end they decided to just leave her be unless she was needed for something. It was tiresome, but what else could they do?

“Addy!” Sirius called up to them. “You have a fire-call!”

She got up, glad for the distraction from the argument. Checking her watch, she saw they'd been arguing amongst themselves for an entire hour. She went down the stairs and into the drawing room.

“Who is it? Oh, Luna!” she said, suddenly switching forms to Iliana when the redhead jumped into the proverbial driver's seat.

“Hello Iliana! Daddy and I were going to come to London this afternoon to visit the local Muggle library. Would you like to come along? Daddy would like to meet you.”

She looked around as if to see if they were alone. Iliana checked out the door, nobody was nearby. “Coast is clear.”

“Good. I told Daddy about our date, and our feelings for each other. We're going to the library to get some information on same-gender love for The Talk. Especially where girls are concerned.”

Iliana blushed. “Oh, yeah. Cool. Uh, Sirius will be fine with that. I've told him about us as well, and he knew Al wasn't straight. I mean, I'll have to ask Sirius if I can join you, and he'll probably insist on coming with. Though, uh...” She paused. Was Sirius still thinking about the Hypatia issue? How could she express this to Luna?

# Hey Hypatia? Can I tell Luna about you? She can keep a secret. #

At a very high rate of speed, Hypatia shot back, (Oh yeah sure, why not? Great idea, that. Better yet, call up Rita Skeeter and give her an exclusive interview all about my secrets for The Daily Prophet, sounds like a wonderful idea, I'm sure Draco will understand completely and all will be roses and skipping through a sunlit meadow. It'll be lovely, Voldemort will play us a song on the violin while wearing a great big fake mustache and dressed like one of those guys on the boats in Venice. No wait, FUCK YOU!) *sound of a door slamming shut*

# Jeez louise, what a tetchy git. #

To Luna, she said, “Iiiiii'll just go ask Sirius about it, okay?”

“Of course. I'll wait here.”

As Iliana left, she heard Luna start to hum to herself.

Sirius was in the kitchen, nursing a butterbeer. When she came in, he looked up at her.

“If Luna wants to come over, pup, that's fine by me. You can let her in.”

“Luna and her father want to come to London to go to one of the Muggle libraries, and were wondering if I wanted to come with them. What do you say?”

“A Muggle library? What for?”

“Um... stuff about same-gender relationships. You know, for, er... The Talk.”

He blushed. “Ah. Wait, so does that mean The Talk will involve me giving you books to read?”

“Yeah.”

“Sure, sounds good. I'll come with you. We'll have to take public transit, though; not enough room on the motorbike, and we've only got the one.”

“I thought as much. Were you still thinking about Hypatia's story?”

“Yes. I could use a break, though, if my brain will let me. I suspect you feel the same way. It's a hell of a thing, hearing all that.”

“Tell me about it. One day a vague suspicion, the next day years worth of activity laid out like that.”

“You gonna tell any of your friends about her?”

“No. I asked Hypatia about it and her response was... unpleasant.”

“I don't doubt it. Well, let's not keep them waiting. Those floors are hard on the knees, even if you kneel on the hearth rug.”

Sirius drained the rest of his butterbeer and left the bottle on the table, getting up to lead Iliana back to the drawing room.

When Luna and her father came in through the Floo, Iliana and Sirius got to see what they were planning to wear into Muggle London. They were dressed like a pair of hippies. Luna had on a very colorful tie-die dress with the colors in a spiral pattern, and was wearing a flower crown on her head, and a pair of flower bracelets on her wrists. For shoes, she had on moccasins. Her father had on white bell-bottom pants, a white v-neck shirt with a pattern stitched into the collar, a fringed vest of brown leather, purple granny glasses, and something similar to a sweat band or a hair band on his head. Instead of moccasins, he had on go-go boots. At least, Iliana thought he was wearing go-go boots; it was hard to tell, as they were mostly covered by his bell-bottoms.

“Groovy, man,” Sirius said, grinning.

Xeno chuckled. “Yes, a bit out of date, but I believe the Muggles call it 'retro.'”

“At least it's stylistically consistent,” Iliana said. “Most wizards and witches seem to forget in their older age how to dress like Muggles, and wear weird mixes like a kilt with a poncho.”

“Yes, I believe it to be the fault of the yobnogs, you know,” Xeno said. “Yobnogs hate stylistically consistent clothing in wizards because they like us to stand out, and so they cause people to forget how to blend in. But not us, we're protected. In this case, by the simple expedient of standing out as much as possible on our own without 'help' from the yobnogs.”

Iliana grinned and turned to Luna. “Love your dress. It's very colorful. Very you.”

Luna curtsied. “Thank you, Iliana. You look good as well.”

Iliana looked down at her clothes, and was alarmed to find she had on a dress with a pattern of fish on it. Not colorful, living fish, but dead gray ones, very ugly indeed. She immediately knew who to blame.

“Um, I think someone is angry at me. I'll just go change now, be right back.”

She ran upstairs, internally yelling impotently at the annoyingly quiet Hypatia as she went into the room, pulled off the ugly fish dress, and pulled on another with pink hearts on a sky-blue background, then ran back downstairs.

“Aww,” Luna said. “I liked the dead fish dress. It made quite the statement.”

“Yeah, well I didn't like it.”

“So, I take it you're Iliana?” Xeno asked, holding out his hand for her to shake.

She took it. “Yes, that's me.”

“Wonderful to finally meet you. Luna has told me so much about you all. Let's see, there's also Adira – formerly, well, I won't say the dead name, even if it's famous. Then Alastair, correct? Good. Um... Chandra? Excellent. Then she recently met Tier. Am I missing anyone?”

“Zoey and Avani Maznah, who is also known as Mother.”

“Ah yes, I remember Zoey now. Six year old, black hair, hetero-chromatic eyes? Good. I don't remember Mother, though.”

“Ah, well She never comes Out. So far She has been some kind of teacher for Chandra, and seems to be able to control who's Out when She chooses to exercise that ability. Oh yeah, and She acts like an on-site psychiatrist.”

“Psychiatrist? That's the Muggle Mind Healing, isn't it?”

“One of two branches, yes. Psychiatrists deal more with ailments caused by medical problems in the brain, like chemical imbalances, brain damage, that sort of thing. Psychologists are basically professional counselors or therapists. I might be oversimplifying things, but I don't really understand the difference that well myself. Except I don't think psychologists can prescribe medicines.”

“Ah. Well anyway, as much fun as it would be to chat here, we should all get going. It's been a while since I've been in Muggle London, Mr. Black; can you tell me what we do?”

“Please call me Sirius. I have issues with my father, and he was Mr. Black.”

“My apologies, my dear man, 'Sirius' it is, then. And when we're out in Muggle London, you can call me Phil. Not many Muggles named Xenophilius, after all.”

“True,” Sirius said. “Good thinking.”

'Phil' pulled a hat from a pocket that must have been magically expanded; the hat was shaped almost like the hat Indiana Jones wore, but it didn't have the creases or divots, and was very crudely stitched from suede. A suede cord trailed from the back of it when he put it on, which had colorful glass beads strung on it. He reached in his pocket again and pulled out a large brown suede jacket as well. He pulled it on and smiled.

Reaching into a pocket on her dress, Luna pulled out a rainbow-colored knitted slouchy beanie hat and put it on. Then she pulled out a rainbow-patterned jacket that looked like it was made by sewing strips of fabric together the way you might do for a quilt, and put it on.

“It's chilly out there, you know,” Xeno said.

“Oh yeah, good point,” Iliana said.

She went to the coat rack and put her normal store-bought Muggle jacket on, a nice dark blue color. Sirius pulled on a black leather duster instead of his shorter leather jacket, since they weren't going to be on the motorbike.

“We're going to make an interesting group on the underground,” Iliana said, taking in their four very different styles.

“Well good,” Xeno said. “Everyone could use a nudge to get their minds open a little bit.”

They did indeed get lots of strange looks on the underground. Iliana didn't mind at all, it was good to get stared at for something other than being famous or being thought insane for once. The four of them went to the nearest library and perused the books. When they had a number of useful titles about the realities of same-sex romance decided on, they wrote them down to find in Muggle bookstores later, since none of them had library cards.

After lunch, where they had great fun introducing the Lovegoods to pizza for the first time in their lives, they hunted around several bookstores for the titles they wanted and the adults used their wands to send their purchases home. Then, just for fun, they went to a cinema to take in a movie. Mr. Lovegood was awed and fascinated by the experience, as was Luna, and both he and Luna had some interesting reactions to it. Even though it was just a Disney movie, there were several parts where Luna jumped and shrieked in alarm – including when something came toward the audience, making her think it was going to leap out of the screen – or other parts where Luna cried during parts that weren't even sad, or sometimes did both. Iliana felt bad for her, but held her close to comfort her.

Luna wasn't the only one reacting oddly to the movie. Mr. Lovegood jumped in the same places she did, though he didn't usually shout or shriek. A couple times he let out an accidental expletive that had other parents glaring at him in disgust. But by far the funniest moment, for Iliana, was when Mr. Lovegood jumped so hard that his entire bucket of popcorn went flying halfway across the theater and he had to go buy another one to replace it.

Sirius, on the other hand, had apparently been to movies before at some point in the past, and could've been a Muggle, as his reactions were much more normal. Still, he wasn't without his flaws; a great many people were alarmed by his sudden loud barks of laughter, he occasionally cried quietly at touching scenes, and several times he shouted stuff at the screen during tense moments.

“That was an experience,” Luna said when they got out of the theater. “A largely good one, I think, despite all the frights and crying.”

“Yeah, now that I think about it,” Iliana replied, “I think I read somewhere that the first Muggles to see a movie in a theater panicked and ran screaming from the theater when a train came toward the audience on the screen; they thought it was real. So it makes sense you two reacted the way you did.”

“Oh, I'm glad to know it wasn't just us,” Luna said.

“I'm just glad we had the foresight to pick a tame Disney movie, instead of an action film or horror.”

“Yeah, we wouldn't want Luna or Phil to die of fright or disapparate in front of a bunch of Muggles.”

“Yes, I don't think I want to ever see a horror movie,” Luna said. “I don't think I could handle it.”

She was having so much fun that day, she later thought she should've expected it would go slightly sour. On the way back to Sirius's flat, they'd stopped at an ice-cream shop for a pick-me-up after the drama of the movies, and in a far corner she spotted a horribly familiar face. Large jowls, walrus mustache: it was Uncle Vernon. And sitting next to him, their backs turned but unmistakable, were the other two Dursleys, Petunia and Dudley. Something dropped in the pit of her stomach, and she started to have a panic attack. She felt weak and shaky, her fingers going numb, and she was sweating and felt lost.

“Iliana, what's wrong?” Luna asked, looking worried for Iliana.

Iliana couldn't move or speak. Luna, Sirius, and Mr. Lovegood all turned to face the direction she was looking. Mr. Lovegood didn't understand, but Sirius and Luna did.

“Iliana, they won't recognize you. You're you, not Adira. And they might not even recognize Adira, either,” Luna said in a whisper.

“Yes,” Sirius whispered back, “but she looks like Lily. If Petunia sees her, it'll be worse than seeing Adira.”

“What do we do? If we get up and try to get her somewhere else, they might spot us.”

“They might look over here at any time and spot us then.”

“I have an idea,” Luna said, and slipped off her chair in a crouch.

Sirius and Mr. Lovegood watched her until she got lost in the crowd of the chairs and tables. After waiting for a minute or two for something to happen, they heard a crash in the opposite direction. All eyes went there, even the eyes of the Dursleys.

“Quick, come with me, pup. Phil, you pay for us.”

Sirius quickly led Iliana out the door, though it was more accurate to say he was dragging along someone who could barely breathe or move. As they passed the till, Sirius said, “My friend Phil will pay for us. It's an emergency.”

Iliana was still not improved when Sirius pulled her into an alley and – after checking for cameras with a handy spell he'd learned once – Disillusioned Iliana. Then he carefully pulled her a bit deeper into the narrow alley, checked they weren't being seen, and disapparated with her to the Leaky Cauldron.

“Tom, please get my god-daughter somewhere she can lay down for a bit, she's having a bit of a panic attack.”

“Of courth, Thiriuth,” the toothless old landlord said. “Thith way, pleath.”

“Thank you, Tom,” Sirius said when he got her onto a sofa. “And is there any way you could fetch me a Calming Draft?”

“I've got one here, Thiriuth, I picked it up from behind the bar as thoon ath you thaid what you needed.”

He handed Sirius the potion, and he carefully tipped it down Iliana's throat. She shuddered and relaxed, then burst into tears.

“Wow, mutht need thumthing thtronger. I'll be right back.”

Iliana was still crying when Luna and Xeno showed up.

“Thought you might come here, Sirius,” Xeno said. “It's where I'd go, if I was with others and had to get away for my Luna. Which has happened before, actually.”

Luna went over to Iliana and held her close. Iliana cried into Luna's shoulder. Luna ran her fingers through Iliana's hair and started to hum what sounded like a lullabye.

“I brought her thum withkey. Watered down of courth, but ought to help all the thame.”

“Thank you, Tom. Not sure she'll be using it, but thanks all the same.”

“You're welcome, Thiriuth.”

After crying for a few more minutes, Iliana ran out of tears and moved on to sniffles and hiccups, then finally just went very quiet, looking miserable.

“I'd... forgotten.”

“Forgotten what, pup?”

“That they live near London. That they come here sometimes. Why did they have to ruin our day out?”

If we see them again, I hope we can change to Adira's old form and give them a good scare, run at them with our wand out, screaming nonsense words!

Iliana giggled.

“What's funny?” Sirius asked.

“Al said next time we should become Adira's old form and run at them with our wand out, screaming nonsense words.”

Sirius barked with laughter. Luna burst into one of her giggle fits. Xeno watched her for a while, but it didn't stop; in fact, since they weren't at school and were in a private room, Luna let loose laughing hard as she could. Of course, this set Iliana off laughing til she fell over and started to wheeze.

“Oh my,” Xeno said, heading for the door a few minutes into her giggle fit. “I'd better go get a Calming Draft from Tom.”

When Iliana stopped laughing and Xeno got Luna to stop doing more than sporadic short bursts of giggles by getting the Calming Draft down her throat, Iliana turned to Luna.

“What was that song you were humming?”

“An old lullabye my mum used to sing to me. It's called 'Hippogriffs At Midnight.' I don't remember the words, or I'd have sung it.”

“Thank you, Luna. And you, Sirius. All of you, really. I don't know what I'd have done if I'd had to be accosted by Petunia for wearing her dead sister's face. It's bad enough Adira used to look like James. Still kinda does, in fact.”

“Yes, pup, I rather suspect the Ministry would have had to get involved in that case, probably by sending an Obliviator squad. Petunia would go completely mental otherwise.”

Iliana shuddered at the thought.

~

The rest of the Easter holidays went by much more normally. There were a lot of visits to the flat by Luna, and a couple times Iliana visited Luna at her chess-rook shaped house, where she got to see a lot of Luna's very excellent art, Xeno's magical printing press, and their dirigible plums. But whenever Luna wasn't around, they switched back to Adira, so she could spend time with her godfather before going back to school.

They didn't hear anything from Hypatia, though on the day before the trip back to school, they found she'd done all their homework for them, which they thought was very nice of her until Hedwig arrived with a Howler from her, telling them in words that filled the entire flat that she hadn't done it to be nice and she hated the lot of them. Their ears were still ringing hours later.

Endnotes: Ah, a little bit of mutual hurt/comfort there between Iliana and Luna. Kinda sweet. :)

Hypatia's story, out in full!

I don't think I'll be shipping Draco and Hypatia. Even if he asked her out, she would likely refuse. And he's not likely to ask while he thinks she's a closeted trans girl; he'd want to wait until she came out. Anyway, they're just friends. Also, he's going to find out the truth about her eventually. Even if they remain friends after that, any hope of them being more than friends that might have been there would be obliterated at that point.

Also, we're getting way out of the zone of similarity between the Potter collective and mine. None of us have the kind of powers either Hypatia or Avani / Mother show in this chapter, or the one before it. Like Chandra, Hypatia is completely unlike anything in our own collective.

I'm waiting to see if anyone “gets” the “namaste” joke that Chandra made in this chapter. :)

I only noticed after finishing up proofreading this chapter that Hypatia's “Sleepwalker Arc” started with an Iliana/Luna date, and ended with another Iliana/Luna date. I swear I did not do that on purpose. :)

One last thing, as a “just in case” and because Google is being a pain: Can anyone tell me what was the motorcycle license age in the UK in 1995? What about motor scooter age, if different?



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