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         If only to block the implications of his actions from his mind, Harry headed from the girls’ showers straight to the Ravenclaw dorms (which just went to show how thrown off he was). The common room was empty except for Padma, who was working on her divination homework.

         “You really shouldn’t break in, Harry,” Padma scolded. “Just because you’re dating Luna—”

         “Lucky day, girlfriend – I ain’t datin’ ’er.” Harry snickered as she choked, and added without the overdone Southern accent, “Is she still sleeping?”

         “Yeah, I think so. It is Saturday, after all. Hey, you can’t go up there!”

         “Already have,” Harry said over his shoulder, pushing the door to Luna’s dorm room open. Her roommates were all asleep too, unbothered by Luna’s muffled snoring. Harry tiptoed over and pinched her nose shut. She choked and sat up.

         “Harry!” she yelped.

         “Shhh. Wanna go visit Jackie with me?”

         “Sure. Just give me a minute.”

         Harry went back to where Padma was chewing on her inkpot cork. “Anything interesting in there?”

         “Oh, hush up,” she said, sitting back. “I know you don’t believe in divination.”

         “No,” Harry admitted, “but I’m bored.”

         Padma placed her cocoa-colored fingers on either side of the quartz and peered intently into the murky darkness inside. Harry placed his fingers over hers and closed his eyes. He jerked in surprise, but could not let go of the crystal ball.

         And he was suddenly standing in front of the spell circle. As in the spell circle the black dragon had come out of and attacked him.

         “What the—?”

         Who are you? What kind of creature are you?

         Harry spun around. The thought was not his own. It didn’t come in distinct words either, but he knew what the question was all the same. He looked around fearfully, trying to find the mindspeaker. Its curiosity gave way to apprehension.

         Why have you come?

         “Who’s there?’ Harry demanded.

         What are you doing to me?

         Harry’s knees buckled as overwhelming anguish washed over him.

         No! Leave me alone!

         The anguish turned to stabs of pain, and Harry gripped his abdomen and gasped for breath. The pain grew even more intense, the presence growing panicked and terrified. Harry staggered to his feet and leaned against a crumbling wall. It collapsed and he fell at the feet of a couple Death Eaters. They dragged him to his feet.

         “Wha—?”

         “Blasted sniffling beast,” one of them muttered as Harry attempted to free himself. Steel shackles spread over his body, sprouting from his mouth. By now, the fear and anger and desperation was no longer separable from his own confusion. “Don’t see why the master needs him.”

         Then a soft voice began to sing, soothing his fear. He stopped struggling and lay still. The lullaby was familiar, something he was certain he had heard before. But his mind was numb. He couldn’t remember where.

         But as the voice grew louder and began to permeate his being, Harry suddenly shook off the presence. The spell circle activated, and Harry lost consciousness in an explosion of bright light.

***

         “Come on, Harry. wake up. I know you’re still in there.”

         “What was that you were singing?”

         “It’s a dragon’s lullaby. Ron taught it to me last year. Come on, Harry.”

         Harry opened his eyes to find Padma and Luna gazing anxiously at him. He sat up and began to cough violently. Padma immediately ran for Madame Pomfrey, but Luna calmly locked her housemate’s knees together and brought her down with a disjointed clunk. Luna, after mumbling the first soother that came to mind, tucked her wand back into her pocket and rubbed Harry’s back.

         “Are you okay, Harry?”

         He wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

         “Luna, let me up!” Padma demanded.

         “What?” Luna said, surprised. “Oh, I’m sorry.” She reversed the spell and Padma walked back over to them. Luna turned her attention back to Harry, who looked confused and scared. “Are you all right, Harry?”

         “What just happened?”

         “I’m not really sure. You just looked into the crystal ball, and went into convulsions,” Padma said nervously. “You must have seen something awful.”

         “I’m not really sure what I saw,” Harry replied slowly, his mind still spinning from the trip. The explosion of light had ended in a stream of images Harry hadn’t been able to keep up with, much less comprehend. A few had stuck, but the rest were gone. “You know what, Luna? Never mind. I’ll be at Hagrid’s.”

         Which wasn’t exactly a lie. He just stopped by Wizard Rayne’s on the way there.

***

         Commodore was no ordinary wolf. He was smart enough to know when the top dog was troubled. He was also used to it. But today Harry’s silent contemplation of the November sky seemed to be more vexed than usual.

         Unaware of Commodore’s silent concern, Harry exhaled deeply and turned his problems over again. After his discussion with Rayne, he had come to the rather difficult admission that he had started to transform last night. He had yet to tell Jackie, but he was honest enough to see draconian traits slowly working themselves into his DNA. Looking into the crystal ball had awoken the memories residing in his system as well. Someone else’s memories.

         The current someone troubling Harry was Raén-Iant, the black dragon Keep Abraxas had somehow managed to summon to Harry and Jackie’s location in July. Raén-Iant was one of the less violent black dragons, but a black dragon all the same. From past experience with humans, his only instinct had been to attack them.

         Between Voldemort and Raén-Iant, Harry might be forced to lock himself up soon. He had fragments of both of them embedded in his mind and spirit. He wasn’t sure which had caused him to give the pendant back to Ginny in such a manner.

         Still, he couldn’t exactly say that he regretted it. And it didn’t help that Ginny was one of the most beautiful girls he’d ever seen.

         Commodore whined, and Harry was alerted to Ron’s approach. Ron plopped down in the grass beside them without saying anything. Harry looked over briefly, then leaned back into the wolf’s ribs.

         “Looking for something?” Ron asked, locking his fingers behind his head.

         “I’ve never really decided what it is.”

         “I don’t blame you. Sometimes I hate you for not having to worry about money like my family does, but then when I think about, you’re the only you have to spend it on.”

         Harry didn’t answer.

         “And then you start getting reckless,” Ron continued, propping himself up on his elbows. “When there’s no one to stay around for, there’s no reason to treasure your life.”

         Harry turned his back to Ron with a muffled grunt. “What do you know?” he muttered into the grass. But somehow Ron’s attempt cheered him up. Harry pulled himself to his feet and dusted off his jeans. “Did you want something?”

         Ron shrugged as he rose beside Harry. “Are you planning to come to any of our Quidditch practices?”

         “Would you let me skip again?”

         “Could I stop you?” Ron inquired with something of a smirk.

         Harry laughed. “Thanks, mate.”

         Ron grinned and headed back for the pitch.

***

         The Great Hall was nearly half empty, both due to students sleeping off the feast and to many of them returning home for the harvest weekend. A few had even acquired permission to return home for the entire holiday.

         Ginny quietly worked on her meal, blushing every time she thought of Harry seeing her naked. Luna eventually gave up on trying to coax the story out of her and left for the library.

         “Hey, Ginny,” Harry said, nearly scaring her out of her wits as he settled on the bench beside her. She grunted and looked away. Harry chuckled nervously, reaching for the roast duck. “Guess you’re mad, huh? You have every right to be, and I’m sorry. Anything I can do to make up for it?”

         “I’d like to know why I have the distinct impression that I spent the night with you.”

         “Well ... you did. I mean, we didn’t do anything, but you stayed in the Room of Requirement with me.”

         Ginny considered whether or not to believe him. Her imagination’s memories lacked the clarity of her experience’s memories (two pasts she was fairly good at differentiating, sadly), so she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. She handed him the pendant and looked at him expectantly.

         Harry almost laughed. “Turn around.” She obeyed and he gently latched the clasp under her sweet-smelling locks. “I really am sorry, Ginny. I can’t exactly tell you what’s going on yet, but I’ll explain sometime.”

         “You promise?”

         “Cross my heart and hope to die.”

         That sounded familiar, but Ginny couldn’t remember why. So she hugged Harry and continued with lunch.

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