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Chapter 1: Chapter One - The Cat and the Bag
Chapter One – The Cat and the Bag
10 October 1998
A fire crackled merrily in the open fireplace of the Ravenclaw common room. Leaning back, seemingly supported by nothing, Luna absentmindedly scratched a few notes onto the scroll of parchment that rested on the table beside her. Taking full advantage of the combination of the first Hogsmeade weekend and the excellent weather outside, she had her common room to herself, for the moment. Humming softly to herself, she nodded at the ancient tome that floated in front of her and smiled as the page slowly turned and she began scanning the next page of text written in Old Gobbledygook for clues to the location of the legendary Graveyard of the Snorkacks. Peering intently at a passage that could either indicate an underground location or a method for preparing haggis, depending upon the context and the dynasty the original text was written during, she shook her head as her wand began to vibrate slightly where it was nestled behind her right ear. Paradox alarms were never good.
A very slight ‘pop’ of displaced air heralded the arrival of two stone four of ginger familiar in her lap. Smiling, Luna’s free hand began stroking the back of Crookshanks as he began to purr in a rumbling manner more fitting for a wild predator than a household denizen. “Lovely afternoon, isn’t it Crooks?”
The familiar butted his head against her as he began to settle himself into her lap. “Careful there, this blouse is silk and while I can repair it, I won’t have time before your charge gets here.”
A soft two-note chime sounded, indicating that someone in Gryffindor had opened the common room door from the outside corridor, and Luna smiled as she waited. Her patience was rewarded seconds later as her friend Hermione’s voice, sounding happier than she had in a long time, broke the relative quiet of the room.
Bustling into the room, Hermione Granger stopped a few feet from Luna and stared. “Luna, I just want to thank you,” she began as she came into the room but stopped as she noticed her familiar sitting in Luna’s lap. “Goodness, how did Crooks get in here? He was in my sitting room when I left.”
Levitating the tome back to the table, Luna turned and smiled at her friend. “He turned up just a bit ago. There’s been a rumor of some sort of tunnel that runs between the commons for years now, he could have found it, I suppose.” Watching her friend carefully, Luna relaxed as she saw that Hermione was looking radiantly happy, something she hadn’t seen since Luna had watched her dancing with Harry that day well over a year ago. Smiling, she gave Crooks a hug before setting him on the ground and standing up to greet her friend. “I must say you look very pleased. Anything you’d care to share?”
Blushing, Hermione stared back at her. “Luna, I can’t thank you enough. What prompted you to speak to Harry after what happened at breakfast?”
Guiltily thinking back to what she had been doing all morning after leaving the Great Hall; Luna called up a smile and shrugged. “Please Hermione; it was time that someone had a talk with one of you two. I suppose Harry just seemed the more logical choice.” Feeling her way through the conversation, Luna began to see the patterns of the past several minutes begin to gel into two possibilities. Keeping a smile on her face, she knelt down and placed her hand on Crookshanks’ back, causing him to pause from winding his way between her feet in a very insistent manner.
Lowering the Occlumency shields that she had kept up as a matter of course since her first year when she had caught both Professors Snape and Dumbledore attempting to peek into her mind, a vision of her and a very distraught Harry sitting cross-legged on his old bed up in the Gryffindor dorm, very intent in a conversation, gave her the broad details about what her conversation with Harry was about. The fact that Harry was bound with a chain of butterbeer corks told her exactly how unwilling Harry had been / would be to have this particular conversation.
Raising her shields, Luna looked up at Hermione and smiled warmly. “I’m just glad my little chat with Harry had the desired effect. He was in a right state when he left the Great Hall earlier.”
Nodding, Hermione grinned at her as a blush tinged her cheeks. “Well, if your desired effect was for the both of us to finally admit that we fancied each other, then you were a smash.” Pointing to a sitting area that surrounded the fireplace, she chuckled. “Care for a chat, I just want to thank you properly and get your opinion on something else.”
Nodding, Luna kept her a smile on her face while she walked over towards the chesterfield, her thoughts racing. Accepting the fact that she was walking a tightrope over a very unpleasant landing zone, Luna realized that her genuine affection for both Harry and Hermione would have led her into having done what she must do next. Folding herself into a corner seat, she waited until Hermione seated herself and until Crookshanks had landed in her lap again before chuckling. “I take it Harry has forgiven me for interfering?”
Looking a bit mystified, Hermione stared for a second. “He told me he was a bit put out when you shanghaied him into a conversation without so much as a by-your-leave, but he’s honestly thrilled with you and he’s touched that you care enough about the two of us to meddle.” Looking down for a second, Hermione seemed hesitant to continue.
Smiling, Luna waited until the other witch looked up before answering. “Hermione, I’ll be the first to admit that the two of us haven’t seen exactly eye to eye over the years, but I’ve always cared deeply for the two of you. You’re both very important to me, and it’s been almost painful to watch the two of you fumbling around and never getting it quite right. I really thought the two of you had figured it out at Fleur’s wedding at the Burrow.”
Blushing, Hermione stared at her for a second. “Harry said you knew it was him, but he never said how you did it.”
Nodding, Luna smiled dreamily as she remembered that day. “It was quite easy, actually. I could see the ‘true’ Harry and while it was kind of cute that he had disguised himself as one of the local boys from the village, he was still Harry.” Seeing Hermione look at her with a confused look on her face, she shrugged. “There’s an inner sense to everyone that’s unique, and I’ve been able to see that since I was a toddler. It usually reflects the inner qualities of the individual. Harry’s has changed a bit since the Battle of Hogwarts, part of his old self was a bit out of focus before that, but that disappeared just before he defeated Voldemort. He’s still the same as he’s always been, just more so.” Giggling a bit, Luna winked at Hermione. “Of course, the way he was watching you every second would have given it away. He’s done that since the end of my first year, after you got out of the Hospital wing.”
Blushing, Hermione shook her head. “Why didn’t you say something before?”
Resisting the urge to explain that she hadn’t, yet, Luna smiled mysteriously. “I hate to meddle; my mum used to say that unless you were certain you knew all the particulars of a situation, or you didn’t have any other choice, you should let events take their course. I always hoped the two of you would work it out for yourselves. You and Ronald came to some sort of accommodation earlier in the term, but Ginevra has been very insistent that she was going to get Harry off the fence she thinks he’s been sitting on regarding restarting their relationship. I’ve been friends with Ginevra for a long time, but she and Harry really aren’t right for each other, despite her infatuation with him.”
Snorting in disbelief, Hermione rolled her eyes. “Gin’s like the younger sister I never had, but that’s one subject she’s never been very rational about. There were times during that month that she and Harry were together before Professor Dumbledore was killed that I almost suspected she’d used some sort of potion on him.” Shaking her head, she missed the small flash of guilt that appeared in Luna’s eyes before she carefully masked it.
Casually letting her hand brush against her pocket, Luna felt the small vial that she had found on her desk this morning, with a note that she didn’t remember writing yet that stated ‘You’ll know when’ in her own careful script. Sighing, she decided that things had progressed beyond any reasonable point of return. “I take it Harry’s explaining things to Ginevra now?”
Shaking her head, Hermione smiled ruefully. “Actually, he’s up in the Hospital Wing, Poppy’s sorting him out after he had some sort of adverse reaction to some pumpkin juice Ginny had given him.” Seeing the look on Luna’s face, Hermione smiled reassuringly. “It wasn’t anything bad for him; it just turned his hair a curious electric blue. Ginny’s reaction to it was much worse; she got a bit shocky and started purging her stomach almost as soon as Harry took a sip. I’m certainly glad Harry only had a small sip of it before Ginny’s symptoms started.”
Smiling, Luna nodded. “I’m certain that Harry’s fine now that the two of you have sorted things out.” Watching her friend carefully, Luna arched a delicate eyebrow as the Head Girl’s emotions played across her face. “Are things between you a secret or can I spread the word that Harry Potter is no longer in play? I know both Padma and her sister have been thinking about seeing if either of them could raise his spirits, so to speak.”
Blushing Hermione grinned. “If you would warn Padma off, I’ll make certain Parvati knows that Harry’s spirits are just fine, and anything of his that needs ‘raised’ I’ll be taking care of that myself.” Luna was a bit shocked by Hermione’s deadpan delivery; she never suspected her longtime friend had this sort of sense of humor.
Chuckling, Luna nodded wisely. “I’m certain you’ll have everything well in hand concerning Harry once you go collect him from the Hospital Wing.” Seeing the blush on Hermione’s face, Luna shrugged. “Are they going to keep Ginny for observation?”
Nodding, Hermione looked a bit troubled. “Poppy was very worried, even after her symptoms abated. She was closeted in her office with the Headmistress when I left and they were waiting on Professor Slughorn to make an appearance. Ginny really didn’t look as if she wanted company. Every time Harry went over to check on her, she seemed to suffer a return of some of her symptoms, if the look on her face was any indication.”
Grimacing a bit, Luna shook her head at the incredible stupidity of her yearmate as she ran the possibilities over in her mind. Looking up to see Hermione staring at her with a concerned look on her face, she smiled and took a deep breath. “Sorry, I was just feeling bad for Ginny. I remember when she came down with a case of dryad heaves back in our third year. She really hates being nauseous, and I can imagine that this is very uncomfortable for her.”
Looking at Luna a bit strangely, Hermione shook her head. “I don’t remember that, but with that ridiculous tournament that Harry got shanghaied into, I’m surprised I noticed anything that happened that year.”
Chuckling, Luna smiled knowingly. “Other than the legendary Viktor Krum?”
Blushing, Hermione shook her head. “I still can’t believe I did that. Can I tell you a secret?”
Nodding Luna smiled conspiratorially at her friend. “Of course, but if you’re going to tell me that you went with him trying to make Harry notice you, that’s really old news.”
Staring at Luna in disbelief, Hermione’s brow furrowed. “How could you? I’ve never admitted that to a soul, except my mum.”
Smiling, Luna reached over and patted Hermione gently on the back of her hand. “Please, it was really obvious. You kept looking around for Harry all night and then you went and started that stupid argument with Ronald after the boys’ dates abandoned them right in front of him. Why didn’t you just ask him if you wanted to go with him that badly?”
Blushing, Hermione sighed. “I wanted Harry to want me to go with him.”
Giggling, Luna shook her head. “Hermione, things like that are much too important to leave in the hands of wizards. I hope you’ve learned your lesson on that subject by now.”
Smiling, Hermione agreed with her friend. “I do believe you’re correct. But Harry did seem to do well enough today.”
Smiling, Luna said a bit vaguely. “Apparently only after a witch had a talk with him, true?”
“True enough. I suppose I’ll just have to be a bit more proactive in the future.” Hermione said, her eyes twinkling.
“But since you’re Head Boy and Girl together, and share a sitting room in your apartment, you won’t have to worry about what he’s up to in the evenings.” Pausing a few seconds to allow Hermione to start nodding in agreement, she added, “or at night.”
Looking a bit shocked, Hermione started to stammer. “Luna, I’m certain we’re going to keep up the standards that the Headmistress expects of us…” Breaking off when Luna began laughing uncontrollably, she began to blush.
Taking a deep breath, Luna looked down at the mildly annoyed familiar in her lap. “I’m sorry Crooks, but I just couldn’t help myself. That was the funniest thing I’ve heard since Ronald was going on about Goyle and giving him lines.” Shaking her head, she started snickering. “Baboon’s backside.”
Giggling, Hermione held up her hand. “Please, don’t start that again. I never thought I was going to get that out of my head. Every time I saw him after that, I’d have flashbacks to those nature documentaries on the Beeb.”
Shaking her head, Luna chuckled. “Before you get all wrapped up in the Headmistress’ expectations, consider this. Why do you think she made the two of you Heads and allowed you to share an apartment together?” Seeing the gobsmacked look on Hermione’s face, she nodded. “The Headmistress has always considered you ‘her’ student, I’m convinced she’s been hoping something would happen with you two this year.”
Settling down, Luna leaned back and smiled. “You said you wanted my advice on something?”
Nodding, Hermione folded her feet up under her and leaned back into her corner of the chesterfield. Hugging a throw pillow to her, she sighed. “I want to tell Ron myself, I think it’s proper that he hear about it from me, but I’m not quite certain how to go about it.”
Her eyes narrowing for a second, Luna resisted the urge to cast a furtive glance at the stairwell that led up to the dorms and prefect apartments. Nodding, she smiled. “I think you’d have a better handle on what to say to him than I would.”
Looking down at the pillow in her hand, Hermione blushed. “Even though things didn’t work out between us, and Merlin knows we should have know better than to even try, I still think I owe him that much courtesy.” Looking up at Luna, she bit her lower lip. “I didn’t see him heading out to Hogsmeade this morning after breakfast, so I tried to find him around the castle after Harry and I sorted things out, but I couldn’t find a trace of him.”
Blushing a bit, Luna smiled thinly. “You’re wanting me to help you look for him?”
Shaking her head, Hermione sighed. “No, not exactly. Actually what I was hoping for is that you might know what he’s been getting himself up to the past month or so.
Her face freezing for a second, Luna noted gratefully that Hermione had looked down just as she had asked her question. “Up to? I’ve been helping him a bit with class notes, and we’ve been revising together, but I’m not certain of everything else he’s been doing.”
Nodding Hermione looked up. “I was hoping he’d found someone else and was carrying on some sort of torrid romance behind the scenes or something like that. I really care about him and I’d like to see him happy.”
Trying not to smile, Luna shook her head. “With both you and Lavender, Ron was pretty over the top with letting everyone know how he felt. Prior experience would indicate that if he was involved with someone, one could reasonably expect that everyone would know about it.”
Sighing, Hermione looked down again. “I suppose you’re right. Maybe this will be the impetus he needs to start looking.” Looking up, Hermione smiled at her. “What do you think of his chances?”
Nodding thoughtfully, Luna pondered the question for several seconds. “Hermione, I can truthfully say that if Ronald has his heart set on some witch, I imagine his chances are pretty good. I know I’d go out with him, if he would ask.”
Looking at Luna peculiarly, Hermione smiled. “You would?”
Nodding thoughtfully, Luna looked off into the distance for a second before she answered. “I’ve known Ronald since I was a little girl. When I was growing up, I’d play with him and Ginevra from time to time.” Shaking her head, her voice hitched a bit as she looked at Hermione. “The day my mum died, Molly was the first adult on the scene; they could hear the explosion at the Burrow. She brought Ronald with her and he stayed with me while she took care of things.”
Tears in her eyes, Hermione stared at her friend, “Luna, I’m so sorry, I never knew.”
Nodding, Luna smiled sadly. “Mum told me she loved me just before everything happened, I think she had a notion that something was about to occur. When Molly got there, I guess I was in shock; I was just standing there covered in dust and debris. Molly had Ronald take me down to the stream and he sat with me while he helped me get cleaned up. After about fifteen minutes, I just started crying and he held me until my father found us an hour later.”
Looking up at Hermione, with tears in her eyes, she nodded. “That’s why I always knew he was better at reading people than he let on. He comes off as mostly clueless, but when it’s really important, he does get it.”
“Luna, would you like me to drop a couple of hints in his direction?”
Smiling, Luna shook her head. “Hermione, I’m content that things are progressing the way they should. I’m convinced that after this morning’s events Ronald will be at a place where he can think about doing something.” Her eyes became a bit unfocused and her voice got a bit husky. “Ronald will ask someone out tonight in the Great Hall.” Blinking, she shook her head and smiled sweetly at Hermione. “What was I saying?”
Watching Luna carefully, Hermione bit her lip for a second. “You were saying that you were thinking that Ron was close to moving on with his life.”
Nodding, Luna looked over at the enchanted sundial sitting in the corner of the common room. “Hermione, would you mind? I’ve got a couple of things I need to do before dinner tonight and if I don’t run right now, I’ll be behind the rest of the weekend.” Seeing her friend nod and begin to stand, she chuckled, “And I think I’m going to run up to the Hospital Wing and see Ginevra.”
Nodding, Hermione knelt down and waited for Crookshanks to make his way over to her. “I’ll just put Crooks here back where he belongs and then I’ll go upstairs and collect Harry.” Turning to go, she smiled. “Will we see you at dinner tonight?”
Nodding, Luna walked Hermione over to the door. “Of course. I’ll be dying to see how everything is progressing with you two. Wish me luck.”
Mentally kicking herself, Luna smiled sweetly at Hermione. “I noticed some tracks that belong to a Blibbering Humdinger near Hagrid’s earlier in the week. I’m going to pop over there and take a look-see.”
Nodding slowly, Hermione smiled. “Well, luck with that then.” As she turned to step into the corridor, she paused. “Harry told me to tell you ‘923’ when I saw you.”
Nodding, Luna smiled at Hermione. “That’s a big help.” Seeing the puzzled look on her face, she grinned. “Harry was counting nargles for me in Gryffindor Tower earlier. That must be his count.”
Shaking her head, Hermione rolled her eyes a bit and sighed. “I’m glad Harry could help with that.” Closing the door behind her, Hermione disappeared into the corridor.
Standing very still for several seconds, Luna waited to see if her friend would return. Turning, she lazily waved her wand in the direction of the table she had been working at and watched the tome she had been researching and the parchment make its way up the steps to her apartment.
Once everything was tidy, she walked over to the statue of Rowena Ravenclaw. Staring at the marble statue for several seconds, she cast a minor incantation on the statue and it subtly changed hue. Nodding to the statue she waited until the statue nodded in return. “You heard?”
Smiling at her, the statue nodded stiffly. “Yes, it seems I’ve already agreed to this.”
Smiling sadly, Luna sighed. “Thank you very much, I’ll return shortly.”
Nodding sagely, the statue smiled. “Relatively speaking, of course.” Reaching a hand into the bag that hung from her belt, Rowena withdrew a small platinum hourglass on a silver chain and handed it to Luna. “This one is particularly sensitive. Careful with the decimal points.”
Glancing over at the sundial one more time, she nodded. “I’ll give myself four minutes on this end and six on the other.” Turning and twisting the timeturner, she smiled and nodded. “All set.”
Placing the device around her neck, she smiled as the statue went back to sleep. Heading out the door, she made her way up to the seventh floor and the entrance to Gryffindor Tower. Looking around, she didn’t see anyone and she stepped back into a convenient alcove. Taking her wand, she tapped the timeturner around her neck three times and said quietly. “Take me back to 917 this morning.” A brief shimmer of silver light engulfed her, and she was gone.