The next morning, Dumbledore was still investigating the incident of werewolves snatching Buckbeak right from the school grounds. By this time, Mr. Fudge, the Minister of Magic, had shown up with a few other workers at the ministry. The most notable being Dolores Umbridge, her pink overcoat easily spotted from the distance she refused to walk to keep her clothes clean. “I’m sorry, I still just don’t understand why we haven't already taken in the most obvious suspect in.” She asked with her pompous attitude, a smile hiding her thinly veiled disrespect for the headmaster.
Dumbledore just smiled calmly, speaking with Mr. Fudge, ignoring Umbridge. “My teacher was locked away by me in the dungeons, after even having his medicine… I can assure… That he was not responsible for this incident…” He then glanced at Umbridge, his gentle smile not faltering in the least as he spoke to her. “However… If I might add my conjecture…?” He didn’t bother to wait for her to nod before explaining to her the true obvious suspect in this case. “Perhaps the Dementor’s are having an effect in the forest…? Driving a population of rabid werewolves closer to the school…?” He shrugged, his gaze not reflecting any blame that his words just stung.
“Well we can’t very well ask the Dementors to stop looking for Sirius Black, can we?” Mr. Fudge chuckled at the idea, Dumbledore shaking his head along with him, joining in the small laughter. “No, very much not… The students' safety is of priority…” Mr. Fudge nodded with Dumbledore, glancing at Hagrid sitting on his stoop leaning forward, holding a feather of Buckbeak’s. He had already given his condolences to Hagrid, and clearly didn’t want to speak with him again due his grieving. “We’ll search around for any werewolves in the area, but I’m afraid that is all I can do, Headmaster.”
Dumbledore nodded solemnly, but thankfully. “I understand…” Mr. Fudge nodded, and walked off to visit a bit of Hogsmeade again. Umbridge smirked at Dumbledore before turning away to follow Mr. Fudge, leaving Dumbledore alone. He carefully walked down the stone steps to Hagrid, still playing with a feather. Most of the Ministry workers were ‘looking’ further in the forest, spoken in italics because they all didn’t want or care enough to find a death-row’s corpse anyway.
Dumbledore sat down on the wooden steps, silently waiting for Hagrid to speak his mind. After a small gust of wind, Hagrid finally uttered something. “I followed that there trail of blood… It disappears 50 or so paces in…” Dumbledore nodded slowly, taking in the information yet again, still pondering what truly happened last night. Buckbeak wasn’t injured in the least when taken away by the werewolves Hagrid shot at.
In fact, the reason Hagrid had a feather of Buckbeak was because Buckbeak came back to see Hagrid off. It was then obvious to both of them that Buckbeak willingly decided to go with the black werewolf, much to Hagrid’s horror after making the realization. He instantly went for Dumbledore afterwards, banging on his chamber door in a panic. After understanding the situation, despite his tired body, Dumbledore hurriedly walked through the halls while Fawkes scoured the skies. They both went in search for treatment of the werewolf, seeing as it was perhaps just another wizard like Lupin trying his or her best, but found nothing. Hagrid immediately ruled out Chiara, since she was a silver wolf, and the one Hagrid shot was dark black, but what he didn't know, what only a very select few of the staff truly knew, was what Dumbledore suspected the entire time.
‘If he made his own…’ Dumbledore theorized, while the morning grew near, checking in the Great Hall to see if the young brown haired boy was absent. At breakfast, both Lucas and Chiara were both eating their fill, neither one seemed to be in a great deal of stress, but Dumbledore knew that most wounds were healed after transforming back into a human. He had no proof, but just watching both young teens, look towards one another, then away, and back again showed enough for Dumbledore's eyes. Taking a deep breath, Dumbledore slowly nodded, tired from the lack of sleep but slightly proud of the young boy; his conscious still pointed in the right direction. “I think... Everything is just the way it should be, my dear friend…”
Hagrid glanced at Dumbledore, and studied his relaxed expression. Dumbledore usually held things to himself, but he was never wrong in his judgment of those things. Hagrid felt his knotted stomach ease in tension just at Dumbledore’s reassurance. “I sure 'ope so.” Dumbledore chuckled while giving Hagrid a pat on his back, before standing up and heading to the school once again, ready to continue this already long day.
“Excuse me…” My stomach dropped at the voice standing right behind me. I was still sitting at my house table in the Great Hall, in full view of every Slytherin at school, many watching me with interest. “You are excused.” I answered back, unable to turn around and face the voice, Pansy looking at my expression with intrigue. “I wanted to see your ey-” Before she could finish her sentence I jumped to my feet, pushing the bench I was sitting on loudly against the floor.
I turned back around to see Luna, standing before me, her golden locks of hair reminding me of last night. “I have no time for such a mindless request.” I almost yelled while walking away, unable to keep my shame from resurfacing. Outside of the Great Hall, I ducked behind the stairs, and let out a sigh of relief, feeling my pounding chest of anxiety. “You appear troubled…” Another familiar voice asked, I looked up to see Dumbledore standing in front of me, his hands neatly placed behind his robes while studying me.
Instantly my heart began racing again, my luck today was horrible. “Nothing for your concern.” Dumbledore raised a brow, glancing at my hand, which I inadvertently let slip to my lower side from the dull throbbing pain. “Just stomach pain.” I quickly added, hiding my tracks. Dumbledore gave a low chuckle, before waving his hand to the open spot beside me on the bench. “May I…?” I just nodded silently as he took his seat.
Letting out a large sigh as he sat, he stared at the painting of Merlin staring out into the mountain range. “You know… Merlin has always been my most fond wizard…” I shrugged at him. “For almost every witch or wizard he is.” Dumbledore chuckled, nodding with my statement. “Yes, many are fond of his brilliance, the way he paved for much of wizardkind… However… That is not why I am fond of Merlin…”
I glanced at him, staring deeply into the painting, observing every detail of the far off mountains as he spoke. “I am fond of Merlin, because he stood by his conviction… Even after being persecuted by his own house… He never renounced his beliefs…” I looked at the back of Merlin, still sleeping in his rocking chair, slowly moving back and forth. It was the very same reason why I looked up to Merlin, he had what I didn’t, courage to speak his mind. I didn't care much for him at his astounding charms, his name so inscribed in our culture, nor even the fact he was Slytherin. All I cared for was his ability to continue to persevere through school here... A school that had no qualms of ruining me with one slip of the tongue.
“But that doesn’t have to be everyone…” Dumbledore interrupted my thoughts, making me jump slightly in my seat. He stared deeply into my eyes, a knowing gaze that worried me. “As long as you know what is right… And never go against that… That is enough…” I was confused by what he was saying exactly, his gaze making me dizzy for a moment. I blinked a few times, and just as I was about to grunt at strange migraine he suddenly stood up, and began walking away. After a few steps, he paused, and glanced back at me with the same knowing gaze. “Just don’t push everyone away… Or you’ll have no one left to remove stray arrows that come your way…”
I gripped the railing of the bench, and clenched my jaw, trying to keep my face as unknowing as possible. He knew it was me, in a roundabout fashion he was giving me a warning. Dumbledore chuckled a bit more, and left me without another word, hardly even sparing my silent freak-out his gaze. Finally after I had regained my composure, I let out another sigh, wondering if he enjoyed knowing my true nature, or just that I saved Buckbeak. It was one or the other he was keeping it a secret from the Ministry, along with me not on the Registry for Werewolves.
‘Although I hear most aren’t on that registry, even Chiara I would have to assume isn’t on it.’ I understood why more than most, the idea of outing oneself as a blood traitor was just as bad to me as being outed as a werewolf. Unfortunately for me, I was both. “Can we talk now…?” ‘Oh for-’ I barely stopped myself from thinking of an obscenity as I glanced at Luna, standing in front of me. Her usual blank look was offset by her inspecting azure eyes. ‘Am I cursed today or- oh… yea...’
As Luna took the seat beside me, I kept my gaze centered forward, ignoring her to the best of my ability. “I’d rather not speak to you. If that has any meaning in your mind?” Luna was silent as she just stared at me, her gaze burning holes through my head. “What!?” I yelled, finally snapping, glaring at Luna. She didn’t flinch, instead moved her face closer to mine, studying my eyes while muttering incoherent words under her breath. The scent of butterbeer tickling my nose while she peered this close. Her azure eyes looked at me with an unfathomable gaze, and I couldn't help but remember those same eyes looking back at me with the glow of the moonlight over us both.
I gulped, fear creeping through the back of my mind. "Luna, I-" I was about to mutter something, but she instantly raised a finger to my lips, silencing me with a small shush. "Don't speak... I'm sure the Nargles need a bit longer on your mind..." I squinted my eyes in disbelief, I knew she thought creatures like those existed, and perhaps they might have. I would have found it fun to look for new magical creatures with Luna, but not while I was feeling this guilty and embarrassed of her. I shook my head and moved her hand away, beginning to speak. "Luna, I'm really not in the mood-" She instantly placed her finger over my lips again, and moved her head so that I had to look at her. "Do I taste familiar...?" She asked, tilting her head a bit while staring deep into my eyes, never breaking her gaze, nor her neutral expression.
I gasped from her sudden straight question, and in my doing so, my mouth went slightly more agape; letting her finger rest on my tongue. The familiar taste of Luna's skin reminded me of butterbeer, before I spat out her finger. "What the hell are you doing!?" I yelled in a whisper, unable to kick up a fuss. I shook my head, unable to be rid of the hunger inducing flavor that rattled the chains in the back of my mind. "Many dogs like licking things to show affection..." She answered matter-of-factly, as if I was the strange one for her actions. "I'm not a dog!" I sniped back, at her unapologetic attitude. She blinked a few times, and glanced at her finger, finally looking back at me.
“I understand…” She concluded with the smallest of nods, placing her hand on mine, patting it a few times to try and comfort me. Stunned at what she was doing, I couldn’t say a word, instead just looking on with my mouth slightly agape. The corner of her lip climbed as she looked at my expression, barely forming a small grin. “I'll learn more before next month...” I sat motionless in shock, unable to comprehend her obscure words. Seeing me with nothing to say, she glanced down at her wettened finger and dabbed it against her robes.
I followed her with my eyes as she stood from the seat, and watched her walk away without another word. She truly was strange, a girl I could never predict with her strange actions. Was she insane, or perhaps just saw things in such a different manner than I could ever comprehend? She was strange, yet intriguing. My chest always tightened in fear when she was around, unable to plan ahead what she might say or do left me uneasy with being close with her. However I could tell that wasn’t all that was in my chest, a strange sense of anticipation came to mind when I thought we could converse. It all boiled together in a strange cacophony of thoughts and feelings, ones that I didn't have time to think over.
It was confusing to say the least, I didn’t know how I should feel with her present. On one hand we both had a mutual love of magical creatures, on the other I couldn’t trust her not to openly speak of anything I didn't want her to. I glanced down at my hand, a slight sheen of where she patted it earlier. I wiped away my own spit, sighing at the idea of Luna Lovegood somehow figuring what I was. She may have, but nothing was ever straight forward with her, except her questions of course. “Women have always been the field I never quite understood myself.” Merlin suddenly spoke, no longer snoring in his chair, but in fact looking back at me with a small grin. “Good luck is all I can say to you.” He chuckled like a grandfather seeing his grandson stuck on his broomstick high in the sky, too scared to even look down.
I frowned at his usual lack of wisdom, and was about to leave my seat before Pansy suddenly took the spot beside me. “Hey Lucas.” ‘Looks like no peace for me.’ I held back a small sigh, and placed my arm around her shoulders. “Hey Pansy.” No more words were spoken between us, as Pansy knew I wouldn’t say anything about Luna. I felt bad, especially since she wasn’t with me after my injury like I promised her I would ask her to be, but I couldn’t let her know. I was still terrified of her seeing me as a monster. However, the guilt of shutting her out was beginning to kill me, and I wasn't sure how much longer I could keep pushing her away.
As Lucas pulled Pansy closer, she held back a small smile. She had looked for him just for this. She knew that he had secrets, and while it did sting that he felt he couldn’t trust her from time to time, she knew she was getting closer. Once he finally trusted her enough, and explained what he was holding back from her, she could finally say what she had come to know about herself too.