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A few months earlier...

The Gryffindor Common Room was almost empty, except for the presence of Harry, Hermione and Ron, who were sitting in front of the fire checking the Map for the 5th time that night.

‘Harry, I really think we should go to bed. It’s obvious that Professor Lupin is in his room right now and probably in his bed already and not going anywhere,’ said Hermione, tired.

At that very moment, an ink spot on the map, with the name Remus Lupin, started moving towards the door. Ron and Harry looked at Hermione.

‘You were saying...’ Ron said. Hermione sighed and got up, taking the map and the Invisibility Cloak from Harry’s lap.

‘Alright, alright, I never said I was always right! Let’s go, he’s going to the Entrance Hall,’ Hermione admitted.

Ron and Harry stood up and followed Hermione, walking through the Fat Lady portrait. They wore the Invisibility Cloak, trying their most to cover every single part of their bodies, and went to the Entrance Hall, following Lupin’s steps. They stopped by the stairs and Harry checked the Map again.

‘He’s going to the Forbidden Forest!’ he exclaimed.

‘Come on,’ urged Hermione. They left the Castle, still looking at the Map, when a black spot with the name Ariel Loiseau appeared by Lupin’s side. Harry, Ron and Hermione hid behind a tree, not very close to where Lupin and the woman named Ariel stood talking.

‘Here... This is what I’m talking about,’ said Harry, looking at his friends.

‘Who’s she, mate?’ asked Ron, curiously.

‘I told you, I don’t know,’ said Harry, a little frustrated. ‘But this is the third time I see her with Lupin.’

‘Maybe she’s from the Order,’ said Hermione. ‘I reckon we don’t know everybody from the Order.’

'I know,’ said Harry, ‘but they never mentioned her before and...’

‘I don’t know, mate,’ said Ron, ‘maybe she’s not from the Order. Maybe...’ Ron looked at Lupin and the woman talking. ‘What about Tonks?’

Harry and Hermione looked at him under the cloak.

‘What about her? Do you reckon they might...’ said Hermione with a suggestive look. Harry and Ron looked at each other and shrugged. ‘Come on, let’s come closer, I want to see her face,’ she urged.

They moved behind a tree closer to where Lupin and the woman were talking. They could now hear her voice, but could not figure exactly what they were saying. Her voice was deep and strong; a beautiful woman’s voice, but with a sad tone in it. She was beautiful, definitely beautiful. Ron and Harry looked at the woman mesmerized, while Hermione could not stop staring at her. The woman named Ariel looked like an angel in her white robes, long and dark hair and the most beautiful blue eyes she had ever seen.

‘Blimey, she’s... astonishing!’ muttered Ron, his mouth wide open. ‘Do you reckon she’s a Veela? She might have charmed Lupin and...’

Harry and Hermione glanced at him.

‘She’s not a Veela,’ Hermione stated firmly.

‘Who told you so?’ Ron asked.

‘Believe me,’ Hermione continued. ‘Lupin doesn’t seem to be charmed by her.’

‘Shush the two of you’, said Harry, ‘they will hear us!’

They turned their attention to the woman and Lupin. A few minutes later, they saw her pulling her long black hair back with trembling hands and start crying. Her voice rose a little among her tears.

‘If I were there, Remus,’ she said, ‘I would kill her with my own hands, but grandfather thought I shouldn’t show myself! Why?’ she added, sobbing. Lupin held her hands for a while, but she shook her head and continued, ‘now they are all dead and I have nobody else anymore, not even Har...’ she stopped mid-sentence and fixed her gaze on the tree where Harry, Ron and Hermione were hiding. Lupin looked at her.

‘Is there anything wrong?’ he asked, concerned.

‘We have company,’ she said. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked at her, confusedly.

‘Can she see us?’ Hermione whispered.

‘Oh, no,’ said Ron, fearfully, ‘let’s hope not!’

‘I reckon she does’, said Harry, just as Lupin turned around and glanced towards the tree, seeing nothing. Ariel wiped her tears.

‘I have to go, it’s Harry,’ she whispered. ‘He’s wearing James’ old Invisibility Cloak. Don’t be hard on them, better yet, don’t say anything,’ she said, smiling, ‘they are really the second generation of the Marauders.’

Lupin smiled. Ariel smiled back and disappeared into the woods. Lupin started his walk back to the castle with a grin on his lips, ‘Oh, Professor McGonagall is not going to like to know that some Gryffindors were wandering around in the night,’ he said out loud, in a playful tone, and began whistling.

Hermione, Ron and Harry looked at one another and as soon as Lupin disappeared in the yard, they ran back to the castle.

‘Licorice wands!’ said Hermione to the Fat Lady. They climbed the Gryffindor portrait hole and entered the Common Roon. Ron sat on the armchair and Hermione let out a sigh. ‘She saw us,’ she said, resigned.

‘Do you reckon we are in trouble?’ Ron asked.

‘I don’t think Lupin is going to tell Professor McGonagall,’ Harry said as he sat on the couch, ‘he was teasing us. But the thing is... How was she able to see us? We were under the Cloak!’

‘Maybe she heard us,’ said Ron.

‘It’s possible,’ concluded Hermione. ‘Some witches and wizards can see through Invisibility Cloaks, but... who is this woman? And who could she kill with her own hands?’ she wondered, sighing. ‘I will check it on the library tomorrow. Maybe there is something about Ariel Loiseau there.’

‘Yes, you do that,’ said Harry, nodding his head.

‘Why don’t we just ask Professor Lupin?’ Ron asked.

‘No, we better keep it quiet for now,’ said Harry, ‘he took the Map once, remember? I don’t want him to do it again,’ he added. Ron and Hermione just nodded in agreeance.

Harry could not sleep very well that night, thinking about the woman called Ariel Loiseau. She was a beautiful woman, but with sad eyes. What was behind them? Who was she? She and Lupin seemed to know each other very well. Maybe she was really from the Order. Hermione could be right... They did not know everybody from the Order of the Phoenix. Harry remembered very well when Mr Weasley said that witches and wizards around the world were very welcome to help, so maybe she was from another country, like France. Her name, for one, did not sound British. He was going to wait for Hermione’s research and if she did not find anything in the library, they would have to go through books about foreign schools. Harry looked at Ron, Neville, Dean and Seamus, all four sleeping and snoring. Harry sighed and covered his head with his pillow. He would try to sleep a little bit before the day broke in.

The following morning, Harry and Ron went to the Great Hall for breakfast and were soon joined by Hermione, who sat across them by the table. They looked at her as she took her seat.

‘So,’ Harry asked, hopeful, ‘did you find anything?’

‘Well, yes,’ she said. ‘Doesn’t her name ring any bells?’

‘Come on, Hermione, I told you I have no idea who she is,’ said Harry, a little annoyed. ‘I never saw or heard her name before.’

‘Well, turns out that I ran a search at the library and I found her name at the school’s Quidditch Cup records,’ Hermione explained with a smile.

‘What is it doing there?’ asked Ron with his mouth full of jello. Hermione looked at him and made a grimace.

‘Oh, Ron, that’s disgusting’, she said and looked at Harry again. ‘She studied here at Hogwarts and she used to play Quidditch in the Gryffindor team... With your dad, Harry.’

Ron and Harry looked at each other in disbelief, then at Hermione.

‘What?’ they asked in unison.

‘Here,’ she said, handing them a piece of parchment. Harry took it and opened it, seeing a picture of the team. James was by Ariel’s side, playing with the golden snitch, throwing it up and then catching it. Harry watched the picture, surprised.

‘I can’t believe it,’ he said, shocked, ‘she actually knew my dad!’ he added, looking at Hermione. ‘How come I never heard of her or remember her?’

‘Maybe because you are not supposed to know who she is,’ she simply said. Ron and Harry looked at her confusedly.

‘What do you mean by that, Hermione?’ asked Harry. ‘Maybe we never paid attention to it.’

‘That’s what I’m saying!’ she exclaimed. ‘And besides, you never saw her around the castle or heard anybody talk about her. I reckon she is more than we believe she is, because,’ she paused, weighing her words, ‘why now, that Professor Dumbledore is gone and... Sirius and... the war?’

Harry listened to her words and something clicked inside him. ‘That makes sense!’ he exclaimed, looking at the parchment, then again at Hermione. ‘Can I keep it?’ he asked.

‘Of course you can’, Hermione said, smiling. ‘Now, let’s get moving, or we will be late for Transfiguration.’

But Hermione’s words kept floating in Harry’s head. Why was he not supposed to know who she was? This was very weird. He tried to remember if anyone had ever said her name by accident, because if his father knew her, it was possible that Sirius or Lupin or... Snape’s pensieve! Yes, there was a brunette girl with his mother when his father and Sirius were assaulting Snape that afternoon, by the lake! He could not remember her face, because, obviously, he only paid attention to James, Sirius and Lily, but maybe it was her. He could only remember she was tall and had long black hair, but he could not be sure about that. Harry closed his eyes for a moment and sighed, then took the parchment Hermione gave him earlier and stared at it, watching his dad play with the snitch and wave. The girl next to him just waved and smiled.

He dropped the parchment on the bedside table along with his glasses and closed his eyes. Images popped in his mind: a Quidditch match against Slytherin. He could feel the wind in his untidy hair as he searched for the Snitch when he saw her; the beautiful woman called Ariel, wearing the Gryffindor uniform, and Merlin... She played so well, flying on her broom as if she had wings herself. Ariel got the Quaffle and threw it through one of the hoops... Score! Harry cheered along with his playmates, but as the match resumed he backed his attention to the Snitch, seeing it less than three feet from him. He held the broomstick handle tight and stretched his other hand just as Viktor Krum stretched his own hand. Harry looked at him. Viktor Krum? How come he was playing in the Slytherin team? Where was Malfoy? Krum stayed side by side with Harry, their both hands outstretched to get the Snitch, but Harry hit him with his shoulder and felt the little wings fluttering in his fingers. The audience burst into cheers. He could hear Luna’s lion hat roaring. That amazing sensation running through his body and then... Ariel in front of him. She smiled and hugged him, kissing his lips. Harry closed his eyes and hugged her back, but then it was not Ariel anymore, it was Ginny...

‘Geroff me, mate!’ Harry heard a male voice yelling at him and opened his eyes, very alarmed to see Ron in Ginny’s place. Ron pushed him off the bed and Harry fell on the ground, still a little drowsy and confused. Neville, Dean and Seamus woke up to Ron’s scream and burst into laughter as they saw him push Harry away.

‘Sorry, mate, I...’ Harry apologized and looked at Ron, confusedly.

‘What the bloody hell were you doing?’ Ron asked, enraged.

‘I was dreaming with’ Harry began, looking at the other three boys laughing at him, then back at Ron, whispering, ‘Ariel, then... Ginny,’ he added, embarassed. Ron shook his head.

‘If you weren’t my best mate, I swear I’d jinx you merciless for having dreams like that about my sister,’ Ron said.

‘I’m sorry, mate, I’m really sorry’, Harry apologized once more.

‘I’d move my bed if I were you, Weasley,’ said Dean, laughing. ‘These dreams can become frequent!’

‘Shut up, Thomas’, said Harry, laughing as well.

Harry went back to his bed, but this time, he could not sleep. He thought about Ariel, then Ginny and how much he missed her; but they had made the right decision. She was now safe without him, and until he destroyed Voldemort, they could not be together again.

Quidditch practice the following morning was not one of the best. Harry could barely look at Ginny, because he could still taste her lips. Or Ariel’s... No, it was definitely Ginny’s! The kiss he remembered so well and missed so much... He missed everything, the flowery smell of her hair, her touch, her laugh... Even if they still were good friends, it was not the same, but he had decided it was for her own safety. The practice ended and Harry did not even give instructions to the others, he just flew back to the ground, gathered the equipment and headed back to the dressing room. Hermione, who was watching the practice, watched him and Ginny shrugged, following Harry.

‘Harry?’ Ginny called.

‘What?’ he snapped back, not looking at her.

‘Why are you being such a git?’

Ginny. Harry felt his heart skip a beat and turned around, looking at her.

‘Ginny,’ he said, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not your fault.’

‘What is it, then?’ she asked. ‘Are you avoiding me?’

‘No, it’s just that things are crazy,’ he continued. ‘Coming back to school was not a good decision, that’s all.’

Ginny walked to him with sorrow in her eyes and held his hands. Harry felt his heart beat even faster and the butterflies in his stomach fluttering like mad.

‘You miss him, don’t you?’ she asked, sweetly. ‘It’s been very hard for you since the Triwizard Tournament, right? First, Cedric, then the Death Eaters and Voldemort at the Ministry and seeing Sirius die... Last year, even with you telling everybody to keep watching Snape and Malfoy, nobody paid attention to you and... Professor Dumbledore... I’m so sorry, Harry! I wish I could do something to make you feel better,’ she added, regretful. Harry looked into her eyes.

‘You can, but I can’t let you,’ he said, firmly. Ginny closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then looked at him again.

‘I know, but I want you to know that I’m here for you, Harry,’ she said, ‘especially if you need a friend to talk to.’

‘I know, Ginny,’ he said, with a weak smile, ‘and I’m very grateful for that.’

Ginny smiled as the rest of the team entered the dressing room, talking and commenting on the practice. She looked at Harry and went to get changed. Peakes, one of the Beaters, started talking to Harry as he kept the equipment into place, but he could not stop looking at Ginny, who was now talking to Demelza Robinson and the new Chaser, Meredith Stone. Harry had decided to break up with Ginny the previous year, at Dumbledore’s funeral, because if they had stayed together, he would have put her in danger and she would have been an easy target for Voldemort and his Death Eaters, if they wanted to get to his weakness. Besides, he would be away in search for the Horcruxes and could not be around to protect her. Now, he was back at Hogwarts after he, Ron and Hermione had been helped by Bill, Moody, Lupin and Tonks to find three of the four remaining Horcruxes in the summer. One, the locket, which had already been taken from the cave by Regulus Black, Sirius’s younger brother, was at Grimmauld Place among Kreacher’s things and had now been destroyed. But the last one was nowhere to be found, and it led to the only conclusion possible: if it was not in the outside world, it could only be under their noses, in the most obvious of places, Hogwarts. In fact, it was Hermione who had come to that conclusion and together, they had decided to come back to school, because, in the meantime, she would be able to search in every single book of the school for anything that could have to do with Horcruxes, or one particular Horcrux for that matter.

Harry felt a hand touching his right shoulder, bringing him back from his reverie.

‘Are you alright, mate?’ Ron asked. Harry blinked and looked at him, then at Peakes.

‘Yeah, yeah, I,’ he muttered, looking at Peakes, ‘you played very well today, but be prepared for the game next Sunday.’

‘Sure, thanks, Harry,’ said Peakes, smiling proudly and leaving to join the others. Ron faced Harry.

‘Now you can tell me what is really going on,’ Ron asked. Harry took a deep breath and pulled his hair off his forehead.

‘It’s just so many things that I wouldn’t even know where to begin telling you,’ he sighed, resignantly.

‘I know, mate,’ Ron said, smiling sympathetically, ‘never thought life would be so complicated,’ he added. Harry gave a weak smile and tapped on his friend’s shoulder.

‘Let’s go have lunch,’ he said, ‘it won’t do us any good being hungry.’

‘You’re bloody right,’ Ron said, smiling, ‘I could eat a hypogriff!’

‘Now, tell me something I don’t know,’ Harry said, smiling at his friend, who pushed him, making the both of them laugh.

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