Chapter 94. Research
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The day after releasing Buckbeak into the forest, things were still awkward between Hermione and Chiara. Hermione didn’t know how to start the conversation, the imagery in both girl’s minds was still vivid. Hermione knew that Chiara could still remember her own actions last night. Should she ask? Avoid talking about it? Chiara, sitting across from her at the library table was clearly in shame, hiding her blushing face behind her book, randomly groaning with the memory resurfacing in her mind.

 

Finally Hermione couldn’t take it anymore. “You said your beast isn’t… Violent?” She led on, keeping things vague for Chiara. Chiara froze, her fingers digging into the leather-bound book in her hands. “Y-Yes…” She finally admitted, but unable to say anything else beyond that. Hermione could understand, Chiara’s inner beast wasn’t as violent as many other werewolves, but that pent up energy had to come out as something else other than aggression.

 

Hermione’s face reddened, deciding to change the topic. “You said that Luna met with Lucas while he was on his way?” Chiara nodded from behind the book, finally putting it down as she gazed out the window. “Yes… I asked her about seeing a werewolf.” Hermione nodded, listening intently on what Luna experienced. Hermione had gotten to know Luna a bit from Ginny, Luna was indeed strange, but a very caring girl, much like Chiara. However, what Chiara said next gave Hermione pause. “She said she never saw one.”

 

Hermione frowned in thought. Perhaps Luna was just lying because she was outside at night, but she admitted to doing that often in search of magical creatures to Hermione, Ginny, just about anyone close to her. Why would she not tell her closest friends about what she saw? The only possibility is that she was covering for the werewolf she saw. Could Luna know about Lucas being cursed with Lycanthropy, or was she just protecting a random werewolf she happened to see in the darkness? 

 

Hermione could never tell what Luna was really thinking, Chiara was silent as her mind focused on finding the right words, but Luna was entirely different. Her mind was like a cloud, drifting from subject to subject without a single moment of rest. ‘Perhaps it was just best to let things go, if I ask too many questions to Luna about it, I might give away that I know who that werewolf she saw was, leaving things alone, and letting days roll by is probably best.’

 

Instead, Hermione began focusing studies into Dementors, together with Chiara. Harry was interested at first, wanting to know his enemy, but lost his interest once Lupin began teaching him the Patronus charm. Not that Hermione could blame him, he didn’t know what both girl’s witnessed at the top of the astronomy tower. Chiara explained to Hermione about how Dementor’s avoided werewolves in human form, preferring un-cursed humans but still reluctantly feeding off werewolves, making it strange that Lucas was attacked similarly to Harry on the train. After a few days of searching, there proved to be few answers to their questions no matter how much they looked, almost nothing being written at length about the creatures.

 

“Luna!” Chiara yelled out, waving her arm to get Luna's attention. Luna looked over, and approached quickly. “Can I help you…?” She asked, tilting her head with interest. “Well… Um… Hermione and I were researching Dementor’s, and we were wondering if you might know something.” Chiara, still a little nervous around others, had gotten much more fearless around Hermione, and even Lucas, the overhanging fear of being deemed a monster and immediate hatred at ease around them. 

 

Luna’s glowing blue eyes blinked a few times, a small high pitched hum of thought emitted from her unchanging face. “I know a few things… My father had interviewed a worker at the Ministry about this very topic…” She nodded, her gaze looking beyond the years, searching into the past while she spoke. “They are creatures that resemble Death… Perhaps made in part by Death…” Hermione frowned at the story idea, knowing Luna believed in all sorts of strange and unbelievable nonsense. She liked Luna, but Luna just believed in the strangest things. 

 

“Like the Deathly Hallows?” Hermione asked with a raised brow, hearing of the story when doing a bit of research into Harry’s invisibility cloak. She was prepared to hear that Death had created more things that weren’t included in the story, but to her surprise she saw Luna shaking her head. “No… It was the Dark Wizard Ekrizdis that created them… But they were created by a piece of Death itself…” Instead she said something even more unbelievable. 

“Death itself?” Hermione asked, wondering if she heard Luna correctly. Luna nodded, her gaze slowly filling with excitement of discussing magical creatures. “Yes… Dementor’s were created using Thestral blood. Thestrals are said to be an existence created by Death itself, imbued with a portion of its power…” Hermione wasn’t so sure of Luna’s beliefs, but hearing the term of Thestral reminded her of Lucas’ ability to see the creatures normally invisible to all except those who had seen death personally. 

 

‘All stories start somewhere…’ She mused in her mind, while Luna took the seat next to her. “Have you seen another Dementor…?” She asked, wondering what caused their sudden interest in the subject. Chiara froze, glancing at Hermione for an answer, and before she could utter anything, Hermione spoke for her. “We were just studying anything that might help against them.” 

 

Luna tilted her head, humming in thought. “Dementor’s only share one weakness with another Dark Creature, the Lethifold… Because Dementor’s were created using Lethifold, they both can’t stand the Patronus Charm…” Chiara eased up, her intrigue of Dementor’s now growing, slightly wondering why Lucas had a connection to one. “Lethifold?” Luna glanced at her, and quickly began explaining the Dark Creature known as Lethifold. "They are dark creatures that resemble cloaks... They have been documented to eating people in their sleep..." However, before Chiara or Hermione could ponder the horror of the dark creature so similar to the Dementor's, Luna suddenly decided to change the topic for her own accord. "Speaking of dark creatures... Is there anything you can tell me on werewolves...?"

 

Chiara nearly jumped from her seat, causing Luna to peer deeply into her while Chiara silently begged for help from Hermione. Hermione cleared her throat, getting Luna's unflinching attention. "What... What peaked your interests on Werewolves?" Hermione asked, slightly shaking her head as if her question was innocent. Luna's gaze wandered to the books behind Hermione as she spoke. "I think there are more to them than I first understood... I wanted to ask you both as friends..." Hermione couldn't help but bite her lip, wondering what Lucas may have done to Luna for her to lie about it, but still almost admit to seeing one in curiosity. "Um... W-Why ask us? I-I mean we don't know as much about magical creatures as you." Chiara hedged, Hermione seeing slight fear in her gaze.

 

Luna snapped her head back to Chiara, making Chiara wince. Luna acted as if she didn't even notice Chiara's slightly uncomfortable attitude, and just as Hermione was about to tell her to stop, Luna spoke. "I feel like you would understand..." Chiara hid her growing fear poorly, but Luna still acted as if she didn't recognize it, instead continuing to explain. "You asked me if I saw a werewolf last night... Not if I was attacked by one... The idea never crossed your mind..." Chiara's eyes widened at her own wording being used against her while Hermione held back a gasp of horrific amazement at Luna's intellect. Luna, blinked a few times, tilting her head at Chiara's expression. "I don't mean to upset you... I want to learn more..." Chiara could see intrigue in Luna's glowing gaze, sparkling brighter as she leaned ever so closer with her neutral expression. She gulped, still not ready to tell Luna something she didn't trust anyone but Hermione and Lucas to keep secret. "W- What changed your mind about werewolves...?"

 

I noticed all three girls in the library as I went to return another book of Ancient Runes, silently dreading them conversing with one another. I couldn’t explain why or how, but the paranoia of them talking about me remained in my mind. I shook the stupid idea away, and focused on Pansy, still waiting in my room for my return. I had been explaining some portions of the Tome of Ekrizdis to her, leaving out much of the horrific details better left unsaid, I knew she knew I was holding back, just as she asked me not to, but avoided the topic, leaving me to stew in my own guilt once again.

 

I knew I should have told her about the more reprehensible portions, but I didn’t want to stain her mind with the maddening ideas and truths of the human body Ekrizdis took pleasure in seeking out. I let out a sigh, and redoubled my efforts on studying the Lethifold cloak, Basilisk scales, and nerve growing spell, hoping to augment the ladder to something different. I was already getting fairly good at writing blood Runes, so doing that to my own clothes seemed plausible for what I had in store for my clothing..

 

Entering my room, I looked at Pansy, sitting on my bed, a book in her hand while gently petting Val coiled into the crook of her arm, asleep. She smirked at me, but remained silent for Val’s sake. Just looking at her smile gave me a confusing feeling of happiness, muddled with a looming sense of unease. I walked over, and took the other spot on my bed beside her, letting her rest her head on my shoulder as we both read our separate books in silence.

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