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Fics begun in 2003 (post-OOTP)

Chapter Twenty-five


“That’s enough,” Tonks said.

“I didn’t say anything,” Harry muttered.

Tonks chided him, “You’re annoyed – which is fine with me, by the way. I’d just rather you spew forth than hold it in.”

“All we’ve done for half an hour is walk in circles. I’m not the expert here – I’ve admitted that, right? – but walking isn’t dancing,” Harry said. “And I still don’t understand why in Merlin’s name I’m supposed to do this.”

Tonks shook her head. “You’d think I was that old ghost Binns, the way you’ve been drifting off,” she pouted. “We’ve done more than walk in circles, you know. You crawl before you walk, and you walk before you dance – especially the tango. You’re moving naturally with the beat, which is good. You seemed to grasp the idea of the line of dance, and you managed the obstacles nicely. Stand up – we’re not finished here.”

Harry reluctantly stood. At least the music’s tolerable, he thought.

This time, though, Tonks left the portable stereo idle. “No music this time,” she said. “The tango is about the movement between partners, and it’s about the kind of walking. A lot of dances are glorified walking, but the tango is different. By the time you know what you’re doing, you’ll understand why those differences matter.” She sighed, and put her hands on her hips. “I know you think this is pure shite, Harry. You’ll have to trust me for the moment. Start walking again, slowly.”

Harry was exasperated by the whole experience, but he complied. “I’m not in a trusting mood,” he sulked.

Tonks ignored him. “When you step forward, what part of your foot strikes first?” she asked.

“I don’t know… erm… my heel?” Harry ventured.

“Right in one,” Tonks said, “and dead wrong for the tango – wrong for duelling, as well.” Harry perked up slightly. She moved beside him, and they walked step for step, circling the emptied Great Hall counter-clockwise. “Step forward onto the balls of your feet,” she commanded. “Light steps… no, no, too stiff… that’s a bit better… stop.”

She stepped back and surveyed him. “Feeling a bit fey, are we?” She shook her head. “Men. You don’t need to tiptoe like you’re wearing a dress and heels. Just keep your weight over the balls of your feet. You need a picture in your mind…something that’ll stick…” She crossed one arm and rested her chin against her free hand, and then abruptly nodded. “You’re a jungle cat – a lion on the prowl.”

Harry took a startled step backward. “A… what?”

“A lion on the prowl,” Tonks repeated. “That should work for you, Gryffindor. Up over the balls of your feet, legs a little straighter than ordinary, a bit further back with each step than you might like… think ‘king of the jungle’.”

Harry couldn’t evade the dream he and Hermione had shared. He vividly remembered the feeling of stalking Malfoy and the other Slytherins, even though it hadn’t been real. He rolled forward slightly on his feet and stalked around the room. He could feel it – the power of the movement, the slow saunter from side to side, the readiness to pounce at any moment.

“Now that’s what I’m talking about,” Tonks said. “Stop, and do it backward. Tilt your head to the right, so you can see where you’re going. Stay light on your feet – think ‘king of the jungle backing up’… keep it to a walk, though… good!” She nodded her head and clapped her hands. “You’re taking to this better than I expected. Right, then – let’s work on the embrace.”

Harry stared at Tonks dumbly, and she motioned for him. “Come over here,” she said. “Time marches on, right?”

Harry tugged at his collar. “Erm… embrace?”

“Tango partners embrace one another. Be glad Shacklebolt isn’t teaching you, although he’d probably recommend swing instead,” Tonks said with a smirk.

He taught you?” Harry asked.

“No, thank Merlin! He’s not exactly a forgiving partner,” Tonks laughed. “My point was that Auror pairs aren’t always male and female, but they still learn to dance together. It’s an efficient means to an end.”

“Oh… oh!” Harry said. He had a brief and troubling image of dancing with Ron, and wasn’t sure whether to laugh or retch at the thought. Embracing Tonks is a damn sight better than that, he thought.

“Right, then – I’ll come to you,” Tonks said. “For the time being, I’ll be leading. That’s not how it’s supposed to be done in Latin dances, but I’m not a big one for tradition. Besides, I know what I’m doing and you don’t. So… I guess you’re the girl.”

“Charming,” Harry deadpanned.

“Again – shift your weight up onto the balls of your feet, but keep straight,” Tonks ordered. She moved in close – very close – and pulled him toward her with her right hand against his back. “Put your left hand on my upper arm, and push just a bit. Keep it light – gentle but firm, like my hand on your back,” she said. “The man pulls, the woman pushes away… sort of like life, I figure.”

She extended her left arm to the side, and said, “Give me your free arm – come on, then.” Harry put his right arm out. She pressed her palm lightly against his. “If we both knew what we were doing, we might hold hands,” she said. “This way, if either of us lets up, our hands will come apart. Think of it as an early warning. How do you feel?”

Their faces were practically touching at the cheek. Harry felt silly and a little embarrassed. The feel of Tonks pressing against him stirred a flutter of something inside that he liked but didn’t want. Tonks isn’t a girl, Harry thought, she’s… she’s just Tonks. He fought an impulse to laugh nervously, and went for a joke instead. “I feel pretty,” he squeaked in falsetto.

Tonks snorted in his ear, and their hands came apart. “Prat,” she grunted, but he felt her smile. She took up his hand again. “Let’s try walking. I’ll move forward and you’ll move backward. Remember to keep your head up.” The first attempts were furtive on Harry’s part. He felt awkward and flushed, and his hand kept slipping loose. Tonks turned so that Harry walked forward and she walked backward, and he was more comfortable. They kept alternating, forward and backward, backward and forward, until they moved smoothly together. Satisfied with his progress, Tonks put on the music and they repeated the exercise. When they stopped, he realised that his feet had remained untouched; he had stepped on her feet at least twice, however.

She grinned at him. “That was la caminata – the walk. It’s the basic pattern, the one everything else flows from. You’re doing well, Harry… really. I thought this might take the whole two hours today. Let’s look at some basic steps, then.” They breezed through the stroll, the cadence-counting step, the chase, and the cradle step in quick succession; Tonks told him that they were all two-step walks and could be strung together in any number and order.

“How’s it coming?” Bill Weasley called from the loft overlooking the hall.

“I still have my feet, more or less,” Tonks replied. “Come down here, so we can show him how it’s done.”

“I’m not much for a straight tango. We mostly danced milonga when I was in Chile,” Bill said. “Up for that?”

“Milonga… I like speed,” Tonks purred.

Bill descended the stairs to the hall. “Any of your music fast enough?” he asked.

“Fast as a Firebolt,” she laughed as she dug through a short stack of compact discs. She managed to scatter the plastic cases across the floor.

Bill tried not to snigger at her. He caught the curiosity on Harry’s face, and explained, “Milonga’s a kind of really fast tango. It’s sort of, I don’t know… bouncy? Some people think that the tango’s actually a slowed-down milonga, but I don’t think anyone knows. You really have to watch your line, though; it’s very quick, and you could easily collide in a crowd.”

“Any certain pattern, or should we just chance it?” Tonks asked Bill.

“How about salida, cadencia, tango close, salida, chase, stroll, cadencia, tango close?” Bill offered.

“Any adornos, or caresses?” she asked.

Bill shrugged. “Wing it, I suppose.” Harry gaped at them both, bewildered by the exchange.

Tonks nodded, and took up the position that Harry had held. Bill swept her up with a wolfish grin. The moment that the music started, they began to race around the hall. Harry quickly moved out of the way for fear of being run down. He was dazzled by the speed. Tonks’ coordination on the dance floor was so improbable to him; he waited for Tonks and Bill to go sprawling each time that their feet intertwined, but it never happened. The dance was terribly intimate; by the expressions on their faces, Harry almost felt as though he was intruding. After two songs, they stopped with obvious reluctance.

Tonks playfully slapped Bill on the arm. “You should know better than to place bets with me. That’s five galleons, mister!”

Bill smiled broadly. “Gladly surrendered,” he said. “Merlin, but you can dance!”

Tonks turned to Harry with a smirk. “So, my young pupil… any questions?”

“Do you expect me to be able to do that?” Harry spluttered.

“No,” Tonks said, “but you’ll get what you need.”

“What did you think of milonga?” Bill asked.

Harry fidgeted. “Erm… it’s awfully… uh… close?”

Tonks sniggered, and Bill nodded appreciatively. “One of my friends describes it as ‘sex, standing up’,” he said.

“Bill! You’re going to give Harry fits!” Tonks scolded.

Bill waved his hands derisively. “Bah! He can handle it… can’t you, Harry?”

Harry suspected that his face was somewhere between red and purple. “Erm… standing up?” he blurted.

Tonks frowned at Bill. “All right, you’ve had your fun,” she said. “No worries, Harry. We will certainly not be dancing like that.”

“Are we done, then?” Harry asked anxiously.

Tonks nodded. “Practice your positioning without a partner. Remember – ‘king of the jungle’.”

Bill raised an eyebrow, and crossed his arms. “‘King of the jungle’, is it?” He cast a withering look at Harry, and didn’t break into a big smile until well after Harry became excruciatingly uncomfortable. He laughed, and cast a brotherly arm around Harry’s shoulders. “You’re almost as much fun to tweak as Ron,” he said.

“Have you seen him?” Harry asked.

“He was outside, last I saw. He must have been on the beach with Heather for a good two hours,” Bill said.

Harry froze. “I’m sorry?”

“He was on the beach with…” Bill stopped, and regarded Harry with growing alarm. “Are you all right? Did I say something wrong?”

“He was on the beach with who?” Harry asked roughly.

Bill looked to Tonks. “Er… help me out here, would you?”

Tonks frowned. “She was in a right state, Harry. It’s no wonder, after the day she had yesterday,” she said. “I gave it a go earlier on – didn’t get anywhere, but I did learn a few new words. Ginny was down there for a time. I didn’t know that Ron decided to try.”

Harry set his jaw. “He’d better not have tried anything.”

Bill asked hesitantly, “What’s this? I know you and Heather are fast friends, but… uh… I presumed that you were spoken for.”

Harry simmered, just short of a full boil. “‘Spoken for’? What’s that about?” he demanded.

Tonks shifted her feet nervously. “Well… ‘spoken for’ is a bit strong, but… oh, for Merlin’s sake, Harry! Everyone who spent any time around you and Hermione this summer has to figure that there’s something between the two of you.” Before Harry could say anything, she waved him off and continued, “I know what you’ve said, and I know what she’s said. I also know what I saw at Grimmauld Place. If there was nothing there, then you were both putting on a splendid act.”

Enough!” Harry shouted. “Not everything is about Hermione! If we’re done here…?”

“I think I should speak with Ron,” Bill said gently.

“Whatever,” Harry snapped, and he stormed off. Ron had better hope that I don’t find him first, he thought.

Lupin was outside the tower with Mr. Lovegood. Together they were removing the dents and long scratches left on the van by Shona’s late-night collision. Lupin looked up, and asked, “How did you make out with Shacklebolt? He said something about getting at the basis for your wandless magic.”

“He has an idea about it, all right. Rubbish… it’s rubbish,” Harry snarled.

“A package arrived for you, from Gringotts,” Lupin said calmly. “Shacklebolt looked it over and determined it to be safe. Were you expecting anything?”

“No,” Harry said with a shrug. He took the obviously shrunken box and then headed briskly toward the beach.

“Come back here before you do something that you’ll surely regret,” Lupin said. “Heather's down there with Ron, but you obviously know that.”

“Ron’s no good for her,” Harry said without looking back at Lupin.

Lupin continued to follow him through the tall grasses. “I’m thankful she was willing to talk with anyone, after what she’s been put through. What’s worse, I can’t let up; her abilities still need to be identified and evaluated. She’s certainly frightened of me; I suppose she’d be mad if she weren’t. As for Ron… for the sake of discussion, tell me why he’s no good for her?”

Harry turned on Lupin and said, “He’s different now. He’s my friend and I’d still want him at my back in a scrape, but I don’t trust him alone with Heather. If she fancies him… I don’t know what I’ll do.”

Lupin remained calm, almost still. “Is this about Ron, or is this about you?” he asked.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Harry demanded.

“If it’s warranted, then I’ll be worried about Ron. At the moment, I’m more worried about you,” Lupin said. “What are your intentions here?”

“You didn’t ask about my intentions yesterday afternoon,” Harry fumed. “All you did was warn me off.”

“Yesterday afternoon, I didn’t know that Shona was alive, and I certainly didn’t know that Heather was my daughter. Yesterday afternoon was a lifetime ago, Harry,” Lupin said.

“I don't have any intentions – Heather's a friend,” Harry said. His jaw tightened and he added angrily, “Everyone seems to be an expert on my bloody intentions – as if it were anyone’s business!”

Lupin locked his world-weary eyes on Harry. “You’ve had a very close friendship with Hermione for the last five years, and you may need to draw on that in the times ahead,” he observed. “I admit that I’ve wondered whether the two of you were becoming something more than simply friends. That’s quite different than suggesting that you’re somehow intended, or fated, or anything along those lines. I certainly haven’t decided that, and you’re correct – it’s no one else’s business, one way or the other.”

Harry cooled a bit, and Lupin plunged on. “Heather’s a different matter entirely. First, you’re a lightning rod for forces against which she has no defence. Death Eaters have been attacking Squibs this summer as well as Muggle-borns – she’s at enough risk already. Second, there’s something wrong about all of this.”

Harry eyed him warily. “What do you mean, wrong?”

Lupin sighed. “The magical world is one of coincidences, to some degree, but all of this feels wrong to me. You went from the Dursleys to Grimmauld Place to here in a matter of days. Your emancipation has had a number of consequences, and that the emancipation itself was – at least in part – contrived. Now, you proceed from being spotted riding down a lane to dining out to flirting to what I’ve no doubt is genuine affection, again in days. The object of your affection appears to be my offspring, born of a woman I believed dead – a woman who quite possibly should be a werewolf but is not. The only common factor in all of this would appear to be Sirius… but the review of your finances has caused me to give up on chance for the time being. Something’s amiss.”

Harry crossed his arms. “Are you suggesting Heather is involved in some kind of plot or something?”

“No, not intentionally at any rate,” Lupin insisted. “I just think you need to exercise caution. We both need to exercise caution. Neither she nor Shona possess protections or defences, and it’s possible that the both of them are unwitting pawns in some sort of plan. Those are my reasons for ‘warning you off’, as you put it.”

Harry wanted to argue with Lupin, but he could not. Instead, he lowered his head and said, “You’re right, of course.”

Lupin reached out to Harry, but Harry flinched. “I’m sorry,” Lupin said. “Merlin knows, I’m forever saying that to you.”

“It’s not your fault,” Harry said sullenly. “You’re right… and she’s your daughter, and you should protect her - even from me. It’s right for her to come first. I’ll manage. I’ve always managed.”

Lupin’s sad eyes grew sadder. “Harry… are you afraid that I’m going to abandon you?” he asked softly.

“No… no! Of course not!” Harry insisted, because he knew it was the right thing to say.

Lupin’s words were strong and clear. “I will not do that. I have accepted responsibilities where you are concerned, and I take them seriously; you’ll be seeing quite a lot of me. I want… I simply want you to be sensible. We both know what Voldemort will do to those close to you.”

Harry said, “What am I supposed to do if she doesn’t agree? I mean, she’s already told you to sod off.”

Lupin grimaced. “She’s headstrong. I can’t imagine where that comes from. Just be sensible - please.”

Harry nodded. “I understand,” he said, and turned away from the cliff’s edge. “So, what are you doing tonight?”

“Shona was flummoxed about missing half a day’s work; she certainly wasn’t going to miss this evening, as well. I’m taking Ted and Odd to dine at her restaurant and I believe that Albus will join us there,” Lupin said. “Ted’s been quite busy today, as you can imagine. I’m anxious to be updated. In fact, I’d be happy if you came along. Luna will come to dinner with us, I’d imagine; Odd surely wouldn’t leave her here alone.”

“I’ll come to dinner, then,” Harry said. As he turned back toward the tower, he hastily added, “Thank you.”

“Why? For preventing you from dashing to the beach?” Lupin asked.

“You know why,” Harry said quickly. He didn’t wait for a response.

Harry tucked away the box from Gringotts and then slipped back into the tower. As he climbed the stairs to the garret, Harry thought of the study that only he could enter. He wasn’t wearing the Black signet ring so he passed by the door – but he resolved to open it soon. The door to Luna and Ginny’s room was closed. Harry knocked.

“Ginny, I have reached my limit,” Luna called out. “Would you please leave me be?”

“Er… sorry,” Harry called back. “I’ll just be going, then.”

He heard a quick scramble behind the door, and then a click. The door opened slightly. “Please come in,” Luna offered.

“If you need time alone, I really can find something else to do,” Harry assured her.

“You are always welcome,” Luna told him. “Ginny is not welcome, at present.”

“I suppose she’s just worried,” Harry said. “We all were, you know.”

“That is obvious,” Luna said. “I have never seen so much fussing. It was helpful at first; now it is irritating. I am not an invalid, Harry.”

“Then why have you hidden yourself away?” Harry asked. “I assumed that it was because you couldn’t manage the stairs.”

“This room has a lock that prevents Ginny from waiting on me hand and foot,” Luna said. “Thank you for letting my daddy and me stay here. I needed to sulk and curse and so forth.”

“Luna, if you ever need to talk…” Harry began.

“Thank you,” Luna said. “The offer is reciprocal. I do have one need at the moment.”

“Name it,” Harry said.

“I need to get out of this room and out of this tower, and I need to do it without Ginny or Ronald or my daddy following two paces behind,” Luna sighed.

Harry smiled. “I could take you… somewhere nearby. You could listen to music, or read, or whatever you like. We can use the Bonnie, of course, if you had something else in mind.”

“The Bonnie… do you mean your motorbike?” When Harry nodded, she smiled and added, “Perhaps later – that might be fun. A walk would do me good, for now,” Luna said. “You have a plan, then?”

Harry took out his wand and lightly tapped Luna on the top of her head. “A Disillusionment should do the trick,” he explained.

“What an unusual sensation,” she said as she disappeared from view.

“I’ll need you to have a look at something, at the doorway,” Harry explained. “Be sure to keep quiet – your voice will give you away.”

Mr. Lovegood never came out from beneath his van. Lupin eyed Harry curiously and asked if he was heading for the beach. Harry tersely said that he was not and moved on.

Halfway to the cliffs, Luna said quietly, “Thank you for sharing this with me. Thank you for moving slowly, as well.”

“Will you make it?” Harry whispered back.

“Oh, yes. I am very happy to be free, even if just for a little while,” Luna answered. After a few more paces, she said, “Why did Professor Lupin ask whether you were going to the beach? He sounded unhappy.”

Harry hesitated. “Uh… it’s nothing. You should see it at some point, though. It’s a steep hill to get down; I think it would be too much.”

“I’ll just take in the view from that rise,” Luna said. Harry heard the grass crunch more quickly.

“Luna, slow down,” Harry said, more loudly. “You shouldn’t overtire yourself.”

The trail of crumpled grass came to an abrupt stop a few feet from the cliff’s edge. Harry listened carefully, but heard nothing until Luna cleared her throat.

“Well… perhaps we should move on,” she said. “I need to sit for a time.”

“What did you see?” Harry asked cautiously.

“Ronald continues to seek solace. It is awkward and rather painful to watch,” Luna said distantly.

“Seek solace? What does that mean?” Harry asked; his voice rose with each word. “Luna? What does that mean?” He couldn’t see her, and she said nothing. I have my answer, he thought. Harry opened the door to the bothy, and waited.

A few moments later, an unseen hand lightly brushed across his arm. “Thank you, Harry,” Luna said. “I truly appreciate this.”

Harry quickly said, “Finite incantatum,” and Luna came into view once again.

Luna slowly spun in a circle, her big eyes taking in every detail. “I love the colours – they’re very bold,” she sing-songed. She ran her fingers along the spines of Sirius’ music collection. “Muggle record albums… and so many of them.”

Harry nodded. “They belonged to Sirius. The compact discs are mine.”

“I’ve heard of compact discs, but I’ve never seen one,” Luna said. She peered closely at the stereo receiver and amplifier and the compact disc player, and paused to read each label of each button and dial. She pushed the eject button on the compact disc player, and laughed when the drawer came out. Harry explained what he knew about how compact discs worked, and removed one from its case for her to examine.

“Fascinating,” she said. “My daddy prefers Muggle music to the WWN, mostly.” She continued to walk around the room, and took playful punches at the hanging bags.

“Would you like something to drink?” Harry asked. “Everything is from the market in the village. All I have are Muggle fizzy drinks and water.”

“Daddy fancies a Muggle drink called ‘Irn Bru’,” Luna said.

Harry’s nose wrinkled. “I tried that one,” he said. “Didn’t work for me.”

“I don’t care for it,” Luna agreed. “It smells good enough, but it tastes more like water than water does. I became fond of Coca-Cola this summer, actually. Did you know that it can be found everywhere in the world?”

“Including my icebox,” Harry added with a chuckle. He set a red aluminium can atop the counter.

Luna smiled. “I wonder how it will taste here. It was not as sweet in Sweden as it was in France.”

Harry found a glass and carefully poured from the can. Luna sat on one of the stools. She bumped her foot, and looked down. “Your trunk is much larger than this one,” she observed. “Is someone else from Gryffindor House staying with you?”

Harry frowned. “No. It belonged to my mother.”

Oooh! What do you keep in it?” Luna asked excitedly. “Mother kept her school trunk. We store photographs in it.”

“My aunt held onto it, all these years,” Harry said in a low voice. “I haven’t opened it. I’ve come close, but I haven’t done it.” He passed Luna the glass.

She took a swallow. “Thank you,” she said. “I might have to spare space in my trunk for a few cans of this. Could it be mildly addictive?”

Harry was distracted by thoughts of the trunk at Luna’s feet. “I doubt it,” Harry said flatly. “It’s intended for children.”

Luna tapped the trunk with her toes. “Your mother had a pretty trunk. My mother’s trunk is knotty pine, practically lashed together.”

“I think I’ll have a drink myself,” Harry said. He opened the icebox, took out a can of Fanta, and decided that he didn’t need a glass.

“I imagine the trunk will clean up quite nicely. You might try using some Mister Sheen – the spray works best,” Luna suggested.

Harry’s nose wrinkled. “Bleagh! That stuff smells like Mrs. Figg’s house!” He eyed Luna warily. “Why are you so keen on the trunk, anyway?”

Luna took another swallow from her glass. “I should finish this before it stops fizzing,” she said. She quickly drained the rest of the glass, and then added, “I thought that you were keen on the trunk… and it would look smart in this room.”

“I should open it, I suppose, but… it’s hard to explain. I’m not sure that I really want to open it. Am I making any sense?” he asked.

Luna looked at him intently – a look that was rather different from her absent, dreamy expressions of the year prior. She was more interesting now, in Harry’s opinion. His darker thoughts took over; having your throat cut must change you, it occurred to him.

Her eyes lit and Harry thought she was about to say something. Instead she let forth the loudest belch he had ever heard, even from Ron. Luna’s eyes grew slightly wider than usual and she quickly covered her mouth.

Harry dropped his can in shock. The sticky drink sprayed all over his trousers and across the carpeting. “Merlin’s balls!” he shouted. He scrambled for the rolling can, and then called out a cleaning charm with the ferocity of a curse.

Luna lowered her hand slowly. “I really do fancy Coca-Cola,” she cooed. Harry looked at her dumbly for a moment and then burst out laughing. She smiled broadly; her eyes narrowed, and Harry thought it made her look happier and less surprised.

When Harry finally stopped laughing, she said, “You should laugh more often; it becomes you. So… would you prefer company when you open the trunk? I could leave, if you’d rather be alone.”

Harry shook his head. “You’re not going to let this go, are you?” He picked up his mother’s trunk and moved it to the table in front of the couch.

“You really should put it away if you don’t care to open it,” Luna said. “I’ll stop now.”

Harry looked at her crossly. “Why don’t you teach Hermione how to do that?” he grumbled.

“How to do what, exactly?” Luna asked.

“How to needle me into doing something, and then back off,” Harry grumbled. “She’d just keep pushing; at least you’re polite about it.”

Luna returned to Sirius’ records. She pulled Yellow Submarine from the stacks, and expertly placed it on the phonograph. “Daddy is fond of the Beatles. Had I mentioned that?”

Harry grinned. “I figured that out for myself,” he said, recalling Odd Lovegood’s off-key rendition of ‘All You Need Is Love’. Luna looked at him curiously but asked nothing.

The music was distracting, as was the company – enough so that Harry found himself lifting the lid of the trunk without thinking. Luna leaned in attentively, as Harry set aside the lid and surveyed the contents. His mother’s trunk was the most orderly trunk he’d ever seen. He decided that she must have packed it away as a keepsake of her school years; not even Hermione’s everyday trunk could be this tidy, he decided. All of the contents were carefully partitioned into impeccable stacks.

There were at least two years’ worth of schoolbooks inside; Harry was surprised to see many of the same titles that he had studied. A set of school robes were neatly folded and placed to one side. Blank parchment was stacked along with quills and bottles of long-dried ink. Loose photographs were bundled, next to a photo album and a stack of seven small leather-bound books with unmarked covers and spines.

Luna waved her hand in the direction of the photo album. “May I?” she asked.

This was my mother’s, he thought. She studied and went to class just like me or Hermione or Ron or Luna or anyone else. His mouth simply wouldn’t form words, so he nodded at Luna by way of reply.

Luna turned the pages of the album as though it were something from a museum, to be carefully preserved. “You look rather like your father, but you have your mother’s smile… actually, you have her entire jaw line.”

“Uh… usually people mention that I have her eyes,” Harry said.

Luna looked back into the album. “Oh,” she said distantly. “I suppose that they do.”

The photographs were mostly taken at Hogwarts. He thought of the images of him and Ron and Hermione, taken by Colin the year prior, and his mum and dad suddenly seemed so close to him – just beyond his fingertips. There were a few photographs in the trunk that were duplicates of the ones inherited from Sirius, but not many. Others depicted the same events, but in wildly different ways. Sirius’ photos almost always captured people at play, Harry realised. His mother, on the other hand, photographed individuals, groups, whole rooms, landscapes – she tried to capture an experience.

Nothing inside the trunk dated after the spring of Lily Evans’ seventh year. Harry wondered, not for the first time, how it had ended up with the Dursleys. Luna set aside the photo album and began to lift the cover of one of the nameless leather books. With a bang, the book flew open.

Harry’s hair blew back in the face of a stiff breeze that arose from the pages. “None may open this book save Lily Evans or those of her blood!” the book howled, and slammed shut.

Luna blinked hard and rubbed at her eyes. The breeze had lifted her close-cropped hair into tufts. “Well… that was remarkable. I doubt the book came that way from Flourish and Blotts. Your mother must have been quite skilled at Charms.” Harry nodded as he ran his fingers through his windblown hair; he couldn’t argue with what he’d just seen. She could manage this before sixth year, he thought, and he was impressed.

He turned the book in his hands and examined it, though he didn’t know what he was looking for. Then he carefully opened the front cover, to reveal a blank page. He began to turn the page, and felt an odd tingling in his fingertips. He saw a blur, and then meticulous handwriting appeared.


A personal journal,

Covering the period from September 1, 1976 to August 31, 1977

Lily Evans

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry,

Perth & Kinross, Scotland, UK

Harry held the open book in front of Luna. “Did you see that?”

Luna stared intently. “I see a blank page. What do you see?”

“It’s my mother’s journal, from… her sixth year, I think,” Harry said.

Luna said, “You’re of her blood, so you can open the book. It makes sense that I am not able to read it. If she opened the book and left it laid open on her bed or her nightstand, someone could have accidentally read it. This way, no one else could ever read what she wrote unless related by blood.”

“That seems extreme,” Harry said. He idly turned the pages, and revealed line after line of his mother’s small and precise script.

“Only someone who never kept a journal of their own would feel that way,” Luna commented absently.

Harry set down the book with a jolt. “Do you suppose…? I wonder if Aunt Petunia ever read any of these? That would have been a corker,” he said aloud. He winced. “Dudley couldn’t have… no, he wouldn’t have kept it to himself.”

“Aunt Petunia… you lived with your aunt and uncle in the summer,” Luna stated.

“I’m afraid I did,” Harry said flatly. He picked up the book again. “It’ll take a long time to read these. I think I’ll finish off Sirius’ journal first.”

Luna reached for the photo album. She opened to a picture of Harry’s father clowning with Sirius, and Lupin looking on. Her fingers traced across James Potter’s face, who flinched and seemed to look for the offending hand. “I recognize Professor Lupin. Is he older than your father? The other… the other is Sirius Black, isn’t it?”

Harry lost his words again. It hurt to see the pictures, more than he thought it should.

Luna lightly touched his hand. “Tell me about him,” she said. “Tell me about all of them. That is how you keep them alive, you know.”

Once Harry found the words, he couldn’t hold them in any longer. He talked and she listened until the stereo had long gone silent and the shadows had lengthened. Her lips were pursed as if she were ready to say something. She hadn’t spoken since she had prompted him, and he wanted to hear what she had to say. He shifted his weight and the Gringotts box dug painfully into his leg.

He rolled to one side and fished the box out of his trousers pocket. “Imagine that – another box,” he said ruefully.

“It's small,” Luna said. Harry broke the seal on the lid and the box instantly increased tenfold in size and weight; he nearly dropped it.

“Gringotts sent this,” observed Luna. “Do you suppose it's Minister Fudge's head?”

Harry choked before he managed to say, “I don't think so.”

“I suppose not,” Luna admitted; “The box isn't really head-shaped, is it?”

“Er... should I open it, do you think?” Harry asked.

Luna shrugged. “I have no advice to offer,” she said. He pulled back the lid to reveal a parchment envelope addressed to him and a tightly folded cloth of some sort.

Mr. Potter -

Director Ragnok has been told that knowledge of your kin was either withheld or lost. Enclosed is a copy of a tapestry that the Director thought would be of interest. With our compliments.


Oooh, it's a family tapestry!” Luna said brightly. “The Potters are a very old family; I imagine the tapestry is quite large.”

“Why do you know that my family is old? Everybody else seems to know these things,” Harry grumbled.

“Perhaps the goblins have made amends for all of us, then?” said Luna. “I do not have to be here for this, Harry. You might prefer to share it with Hermione – she is the sort to take an interest in genealogy, wouldn't you think?”

“Stay,” Harry said.

Luna took up parchment and quill and began to sketch out a massive and complex tree as Harry had his first look at the Noble and Courageous House of Potter. The tapestry was so large that he could only unfold it one panel at a time. It was the antithesis of the Black tapestry: brightly coloured, with a breathtakingly real image for each person included. There was nary an obliterated entry to be found.

As Harry moved into the oldest panel, Luna said, “It's no wonder that you are a Seeker, Harry. Your family's predecessor was the House of Wright.”

“The House of...?” Harry stopped and let his fingers trace upward to the progenitors of his line. The tapestry began with Bowman Wright, the creator of the Golden Snitch.

“This must in some part explain your wealth,” observed Luna. “Bowman Wright had no sons and his eldest daughter married Mathias Potter. Mathias was much older than his wife... oh, see? He was Bowman Wright's apprentice.”

Harry moved down the line of Potter men, from Mathias to Samuel to Brendan to Nicholas to Bartemius and finally to William. “Why doesn't it become the House of Potter until William?” he asked aloud.

“Perhaps it requires a certain number of generations to become a House?” Luna suggested.

“It says that William 'consolidated' these other houses: Molyngton, Piggott and Waldegrave. What does that mean?” Harry wondered.

“This Beatrice Molyngton must have been the last of her line,” Luna said. “If you look over here, the other two families come to an end here and here. The Molyngtons consolidated Piggott and Waldegrave, and then it all moved to William Potter. That's all a guess, of course.”

“Sounds like a brilliant guess to me,” said Harry. “There must be so many stories behind all of this.” As he moved onward, he wondered how Isabel Potter had been 'Lord' of the house for seven years in the 17th century; or why Martin Potter and his son Roger had both died in 1886, one year before the House went from being merely Noble to being Noble and Courageous; or whether it was normal for one House to 'consolidate' so many others. He discovered that Gladys Boothby was his great-grandmother; Luna had to prompt him before he remembered that she had created the Moontrimmer broomstick, which might have explained his modest share of the Comet Trading Company. He came to the last panel and had to set down the bulk of the tapestry – his hands shook too much to hold it. Luna let her hand come lightly to rest on his shoulder.

“My... my grandfather was called Alexander,” he whispered. “My grandmother was called Elisabeth.”

“They were in their sixties when your father was born,” Luna said.

“I had a cousin?” he gasped.

Luna peered more closely at the picture of a young boy named David Potter. “He was nine when he died,” she said.

“That's why they had my father,” Harry realised. “He was born four years later. The House of Potter needed an heir, right?”

“They loved your father,” Luna said with certainty.

The side panels followed several of the more recent marriages outward to a number of familiar families: Bones, Longbottom, and Greengrass, among others. Madam Marchbanks from the Ministry was something like a great-great-great aunt. The biggest shock was along the Bones line: Susan's great-great aunt Martha Bones had been married to Dumbledore. She had been in her 30s at her death, in 1917.

At the end was an embroidered and very current image of Harry. “I'm Lord Potter, I guess. It all comes down to me,” Harry said.

Luna said, “You've always known that much.”

Harry reverently folded the tapestry and set it atop the counter. “I always felt like I was outside all of this somehow, you know?” he said. “This brings it home: I had a family.”

“You still have a family,” said Luna. She pulled him into a feather-light hug, just close enough to know that she was there if he needed her. After a long while, she told him, “I should go back to the tower.”

“Do you really want to?” he asked.

“I imagine Daddy might be looking for me… or perhaps Ginny,” she said. Harry swore that Luna cringed slightly at the last.

“She can bugger off,” Harry said flatly.

Luna's brow furrowed. “I don’t see how she could manage that on her own,” she said. “Buggery requires that –”

“Right, we’ll be off then,” Harry blurted out, and he leapt to his feet.

They were most of the way back to the tower when they were met by a red blur. It was Ginny, and Harry wasn’t pleased to see her or anyone else at that moment.

Ginny drew herself up into a fair imitation of Molly Weasley. “Luna Lovegood! What were you thinking, frightening everyone like that? We thought you’d had a fit and wandered off, or… or maybe they were here… and… and you could have left a note, for Merlin’s sake!” She pointed at Harry, and jabbed her index finger into his chest. “And you! Of all people, you should know what happens when people sneak off without telling anyone…” Ginny stopped abruptly, clearly embarrassed.

Harry realised that he had liked St. Ebb much better when the wizarding world was far to the south. It didn’t feel like it was his anymore. Ron was down on the beach stealing part of it from him, and Ginny was being horrid to Luna, and Harry decided that it was perfectly fine to be angry over all of it.

“Harry, I –” Ginny began cautiously.

Don’t,” Harry said crossly.

“I asked Harry to take me out of the tower,” Luna said evenly. “Professor Lupin surely knew where Harry was, and Harry is very closely watched. I doubt there is a safer place than this property right now in all of Great Britain. Of course, I was not aware that I suffered fits or was prone to wandering off – thank you for informing me.”

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Ginny insisted. “I just… why did you ask Harry to take you? I mean, I would have gone for a walk with you any time you liked. We weren’t forcing you to stay upstairs.”

Luna gently rubbed at her throat through her high turtleneck, and looked everywhere except at Ginny. “Have you ever been unable to breathe, Harry?” she asked offhandedly. “It is a new experience for me. It is very unpleasant.”

“I can’t breathe right now, and I hate it,” Harry said bitterly.

Ginny scowled. “Don’t tease me, Luna,” she said. “No one has been trying to smother you.”

Luna smiled. “I had no idea,” she said.

“Luna…” Ginny chided.

Luna came to a stop shoulder-to-shoulder with Ginny, but facing in the opposite direction. “Ginny, you have known me since we were very young. You have been a close friend to me for three years. You know me better than anyone alive, excepting my daddy. Reflect on the last two weeks. How should I feel?”

Ginny gave a deep sigh. “Why didn’t you say anything? All you had to do was say something.”

“You needed something to do with yourself,” Luna said. “I thought that you would stop after a few days.”

“What do you want from me?” Ginny asked; she sounded defeated.

Luna turned toward her. “I have no need for a nursemaid or a mother. I would like to have my friend back.” Ginny nodded slowly, and gingerly embraced her. Luna flashed a wry smile at Harry.

Ginny faced Harry and lowered her head. “What I said… it was out of line.”

Harry was not in a forgiving mood. “Whatever,” he snapped.

Ginny said, “Look… Ron wants to talk to you.”

Harry’s jaw tightened. He said, “Funny, I don’t see him here.”

Ginny offered, “He’s worried that you might have misunderstood –”

Harry burrowed into her with his eyes. “Does Ron need you to speak for him?”

“He just thought –” Ginny started.

Harry cut her off again. “He didn’t think. That’s the problem,” he said. “Tell him… tell him he’s a coward. If he wants to talk, he knows where to find me.”

Ginny glared at him. “You’re ruining everything. Tonight could have been fun.”

“Is something happening tonight other than dinner with Remus? No one told me anything,” Harry snapped.

“There wasn’t anything happening, but Heather had an idea and it all just fell together in the last hour or two,” Ginny explained.

“It figures I’d be the last to know,” Harry sneered.

“It’s not as though we knew where to find you,” Ginny protested.

“Ever hear of asking someone?” Harry shot back. “Whatever these plans were, they didn’t include me.”

“Why are you being such a prat?” Ginny shot back. “If you’d take ten seconds to talk to anyone before jumping to conclusions –”

“That’s funny coming from you, Miss Secret Keeper,” Harry snapped.

“There’s the pot calling the cauldron black,” Ginny returned with an edge.

“If Ron wants to talk to me, then he can do it himself,” Harry said. “Obviously, he has something to feel guilty about.”

Ginny balled her fists. “You and my stupid brother… both of you are hopeless! Luna, say something!” she demanded.

Luna said, “Harry has had quite enough to be going on about, without being swarmed upon. I am mildly disappointed in Ronald.”

Ginny said coldly to Harry, “I’ll give him your message, but you can guess how he’ll react to that word.”

“The word was coward,” Harry snapped. “While you’re at it, tell him that having his sister do his dirty work is pathetic.”

“It’s one thing to light kindling, and quite another to start a forest fire,” Luna sang out, and then added, “Unless you want to burn down the forest, of course.”

Harry’s eyes squeezed shut. “You’re doing it again,” he pouted.

“It’s your choice, of course,” Luna laughed.

Harry opened his eyes and shook his head. “As if I had a choice,” he said, and then he smiled. He told Ginny, “Tell him he needs to speak for himself. That’s enough.”

Ginny gaped at Harry as if he’d just grown a second head. “I don’t believe this! You’re angry with Ron because he spent time with Heather? Who is the one that stole off with Luna without telling a soul? Who’s standing here now, flirting like mad?” She pursed her lips and glared at Luna. “You’re much more interested in my brother than in Harry, unless something has changed.” She threw up her hands. “And everyone gives me grief! Maybe Heather and I should leave the lot of you here…” She snapped at Luna, “Don’t do this,” and stormed off.

Harry was quiet for a few moments before he asked, “Were we really flirting like mad?”

“Possibly,” returned Luna.

Harry tugged at his shirt collar. “Erm… does that bother you?”

Luna stroked her chin thoughtfully. “No, I see no reason to think of it as a bother,” she said. “Where are you supposed to be going tonight?” Luna asked.

Harry was flummoxed but managed to say, “Wha…?”

“Where are you going?” she repeated.

Harry shrugged. “I haven’t the slightest idea what she was talking about.”

“Ah,” Luna said.

“Remus and your dad and the others are going into St. Ebb for dinner this evening. Why don’t we both go with them?” Harry blurted out.

Luna nodded. “That sounds like a nice respite. I think I should like that… but what of Ginny’s mysterious plans?”

Harry shook his head. “No, thank you. You’re better company.” Luna smiled faintly in response.

Harry slowly walked Luna back to the tower and up to the garret. He watched her carefully for signs of faltering but she made the stairs on her own. She opened the door to her bedroom without knocking, and provoked a shriek and cursing from an apparently half-dressed Ginny. Harry quickly turned away from the door, which slammed shut. The door to the washroom opened and Ron strolled out in a threadbare bathrobe. He nearly reached the other bedroom before Harry loudly cleared his throat. Ron whirled around; his expression flowed smoothly from surprise to embarrassment to anger.

“A coward, am I?” he snapped. Harry was surprised to see that Ron had his wand in hand.

“That's what Ginny was supposed to tell you,” Harry said.

Ron waved his wand menacingly. “What did you tell her?”

“If you’d bothered to show up yourself, I wouldn’t have to tell you,” Harry responded. The anger flowed in him.

“Let’s see… Bill said you were about as pleasant as a splinching, and Professor Lupin said straight out that I should avoid you. I can’t imagine why I wouldn’t come looking for you,” Ron fumed.

“You were on the beach,” Harry accused.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Oh, so that's the big secret?” He didn’t take notice of the growing quaver in Harry’s voice.

Ron’s tone only made Harry angrier. “Stay away from her,” he demanded.

Ron frowned. “Who do you think you are – her own personal Auror?” Harry advanced on him, and Ron levelled his wand at Harry’s chest. “Back off!” Ron demanded.

Harry’s voice went from quavering to threatening, and he didn’t care. “If you so much as lay a hand on her, I’ll hurt you. You know I can make good on that.”

Ron gaped at him. “You’ve gone ‘round the bend, mate! She told me you were friends, and you stand here acting like the two of you are… are… are handfasted!” He stopped, and scowled. “You’re jealous of me, aren’t you? I don’t believe this! Of all the… gods, Harry! You can’t stand it! You can’t stand that she might think that way of me!”

Harry balled his fists. A part of him longed to strike. “You’re going to hurt her. You damn well know that you hurt Hermione. I’ll bet that you hurt Lavender Brown, and didn’t even see it. It’s all about you now, isn’t it – what you want, what you need. Let me tell you something – Heather’s too good for you, and she’s not going to be one of your two shags a day!”

That’s what this is all about?” Ron shouted. “Harry, I went down there because Ginny was looking for anyone else that Heather might talk to! You were off training or whatever, and I happened to be there. Do you know what I did? I told her the truth. That’s what she was looking for. Do you know what else happened? She kissed me, once, on the lips.”

Harry’s pulse pounded in his ears. Ron kept on, but Harry scarcely heard him. “Will she kiss me again? I have no idea! Do I want her to? Why wouldn’t I? Is this some kind of big thing? No! That’s not what I’m looking for, and it’s not what she’s looking for either. She goes off to her thing, I go back to Hogwarts, and that’s the end of it! If you have a problem with any of that, then you can just SOD – OFF!

Harry erupted. “She’s too good for you, I said!” he shouted.

Ron snarled, “Well, that would be her decision to make, right?”

Harry reached out his hand, summoned Ron’s wand, and tossed it aside. “I won’t let you hurt her,” he hissed, and then – to his own surprise as well as Ron’s – he charged.

Ron said under his breath, “Oh, for the love of…” He dove to one side, and barely escaped Harry’s advance.

“Harry, listen to me,” Ron said, as he ducked a wild swing. “She kissed me! What part of this isn’t sinking in?”

Git!” Harry yelled. He lunged again, and knocked Ron off his feet. He rolled over him, and slammed his fist into Ron’s jaw.

A door flew open. “Stop it! Stop it!” Ginny hollered. “Bill, are you just going to stand there?” Harry crouched, but didn’t move to strike again.

Ron cradled his jaw, and muttered, “What makes you think I’m going to hurt her? Her dad’s a werewolf – you don’t think that’s enough to keep me on edge?”

“She’s the only person who’s ever met me… and liked meME, not some bloody freak!” Harry shouted. Ron sat up, his arms lowered to his sides. Harry heard the echo of his own shout, and realised that the corridor was unnaturally silent. The anger slowly trickled out of him, and humiliation burned in its place.

“That’s not true,” Luna said quietly.

“She’s right – it’s not true,” Ginny agreed.

Harry glared at Ginny. “You couldn’t even speak to me, when we first met, because I was the Boy-Who-Lived,” he said. Ginny didn’t lash back; she just looked wounded. I’m getting good at that, Harry thought bitterly.

“I didn’t start anything – she kissed me,” Ron said. “I’m not going to feel bad about that, Harry. I’m sorry that hurts you. I’m sorry… I’m sorry you’re lonely. I’m sorry –”

“I didn’t say I’m lonely,” Harry snapped.

“Yes, you did,” Luna said.

Ron stood up. “I’m going to get dressed. Bill took Heather home to get ready for tonight. They should be back any minute now.”

“What the bloody hell is with tonight, anyway?” Harry demanded. “Whatever it is, I assume I’m not invited?”

“I assume Heather planned to ask you. Not now, perhaps,” Bill said from the edge of the stairs. The sound of rushing footsteps receded down the stairwell. “Good show, Ron – you handled yourself well. Harry…” He frowned. “I’m worried about you. I think… never mind what I think. You don’t need to explain yourself to me, but I think you owe something to Heather.” Bill pointed over his shoulder at the steps.

Harry stood and descended the steps as though he were sleepwalking. Heather stood against the open door to the library, with her back to him. Harry cautiously reached out and touched her shoulder. Heather flinched, and remained facing away.

Her voice was cold and hard. “You didn’t even look for me, to see how I was,” she said. “You didn’t even look. No… you had to talk to everyone else instead, and make assumptions. Then you ran off with Ginny’s friend. I guess that didn’t work out?”

“Luna is my friend, we didn’t run off, and there was nothing to work out,” Harry said. “She wanted out of the tower, that’s all.”

“Interesting timing – almost like you were playing tit-for-tat,” Heather said. “I suppose I could have looked for you, but I just assumed.”

“You’ve made your point,” Harry said.

“No, I don’t think I have. Ask me how my day has been,” Heather said dangerously. “Go ahead, Harry. Ask me.”

“All right,” Harry said. “How has your day been?”

Heather turned on him, her jaw set. Her voice grew angrier as she spoke. “Oh… same old, same old. You know how it is… the boy I’ve been flirting with is some kind of bloody sorcerer with a price on his head, and the people around him are just as strange. Shona knew about all of this, as it turns out. In fact, I was born because she had a big fling with one of them, and because of that I’m like you lot – or sort of, but not actually. Oh, and the best bit? Her fling was with a werewolf! How the fuck do you think my day has been?”

Harry stepped back and looked at Heather, and wished that he hadn’t. She wore a leather jacket over a closely fitted shirt, a short skirt, and leather high-heeled boots. Her hair was styled into waves, her cheeks were lightly blushed, and her lips were glossy. It was a far cry from sweatshirts and aprons, and Harry fumbled for words. He awkwardly began, “Heather, look…”

She acted as though she hadn’t heard him. “You’re all a mess, all of you. Ron had the decency to admit that. He’s nice. I like him. I thought maybe he could be my holidaymaker, you know – no strings attached?” Before Harry could speak, she added, “He showed me his clippings from your silly teen thing; he was funny about it, really. What he did for Ginny… I think it was crazy and amazing. He’s kind of cute, kind of funny, and more than a little frisky. If he gets something, he wants more. That’s the most normal thing I’ve seen today. But you…” She shook her head. “Just when I think I understand you, I don’t. Ron practically worships you, and you jump him in the corridor! What is wrong with you? What do you want from me? Was I wrong the other day, you know, about your friend on the wall?”

“I don’t know,” Harry said. He wanted to look at the books, the light above, or the floor – anywhere but at Heather.

Heather threw up her hands, and stood up. “Fine. I can play games, too. I’m going in to Edinburgh tonight. There’s a major festival going on right now, two of them really. The Fringe is all over the city and I need to do something I can understand. I rang some of the boys, and they’re playing one of the clubs. Burke and Julian will have kittens over the whole thing, which seals it for me. Come if you want. Stay here if you want. I’ll enjoy myself either way.” She brushed past him, and moved briskly up the steps.

He heard Ginny shriek, “Oh! I am so not ready!”, and then a door slammed.

Luna called softly from the steps above, “Harry? Are you still there?”

“I’m here,” he said without turning.

“Were you told what is planned for the evening?” she asked. “William explained it to me. Apparently, Ginny had no intention of disclosing anything to me.”

Harry clenched his jaw. “I’m not going to just sit here while they go off for the evening. I won’t let him think…” He looked at Luna, and everything came together. “We’re going to Edinburgh tonight, the two of us.”

“You’re asking me to come along? We would be going with Ronald and Professor Lupin’s daughter?” Luna asked.

“Not a chance,” Harry said. “We’re going – you and me. If we happen to end up in the same place, I guess I can live with that.”

Luna drifted off into a dreamy look. “Edinburgh sits on seven hills, you know – just like Rome,” she said. “It is the only old city in Europe completely untouched by the Muggle World Wars. I have never been to Edinburgh.”

“So… does that mean you want to go?” Harry asked.

“I imagine Edinburgh is particularly appealing from the back of a motorbike,” Luna said.

“Oh… oh, yes, that’s good,” Harry said. A sly grin spread across his face. “Ron’s not going to like this, not a bit.”

Luna glanced aimlessly around the room. “Really? Do you think so?”

Harry appraised Luna in a new light. “You’re… erm… not exactly what I thought you were. I don’t mean that in a bad way! It’s just… there’s a lot more to you than meets the eye.”

“Perhaps you’re just seeing things downside-up,” Luna said. “You should ready yourself. Ronald has doubtless changed his wardrobe, having seen Professor Lupin’s daughter.” Harry nodded, certain that Luna was right. He rushed back to the bothy, stared critically at his shaggy hair in the washroom mirror, and began to clean himself up.

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