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         When they had finished opening their presents, Luna got up. She left the others there to discuss the affects of alcohol on magical beasts – having very little pity for poor Ginny and the equally lost Hermione – and went to talk to Jackie.

         “Why aren’t you with the other young people, Luna?” Jackie asked, looking up from the Hogwarts yearbook for her graduating year. She and Cassi and Lupin were in the lower east common room, discussing their former schoolmates. They appeared to be halfway through a late breakfast.

         “Six of them, three and three,” Luna replied, shrugging slightly, as though that was enough explanation. “I was wondering. Are you going to do a reunion? I mean, since Jackie is back and all?”

         “It was at a party that I got trapped in a genie bottle,” Jackie replied. “I’m not too keen on going to any more.”

         “But we should still have a welcome back party,” Cassi said. “Just imagine Reg and Jared when they see you.”

         “Is Jared at Hogwarts too?”

         “Yes, and so are David and Greg,” Lupin said, smirking slightly. Luna could tell that he enjoyed answering Jackie’s “Where is my ex-boyfriend now?” questions a lot more than he let on.

         “And Alyson,” Cassi had piped up.

         “The exchange student?” Jackie said disbelievingly. “She’s teaching at Hogwarts now? Sweet Morgana – what has the world come to in my absence?”

         Cassi laughed. “Luna, you have a good idea. Would you like to come with us? We’ll go find Jackie’s friends and have a new year’s party at the Grave, and you and the others can have your own party.”

         Luna gasped. “How’d you—?”

         Cassi smirked. “Honey, you can’t be around Remus for even a month and not learn a thing or two about the mind arts. What were you planning?”

         “Well, Neville is working a night shift down at the Dragon Grave,” Luna said shyly. “I was kind of hoping we could go support him. You know, let him know he has friends?”

         “What, do you like him or something?” Jackie teased.

         A pale pink color filled her face. “Don’t say anything. Please.”

         “Hey, we’re too old for gossip,” Jackie said haughtily. She grinned. “He won’t hear it from me.” Some thought seemed to occur to her, and her expression grew hopeful. “You think we could get Reg to come?”

         Cassi smirked. “Girl, no way you gonna get Reg to come out of his cave, even for New Year’s.”

         “He might come out for her,” Lupin commented. “There’s no telling what he’d do for her.”

         Luna was surprised to see a blush rise in Jackie’s face.

         “I’m game,” Jackie said, as though she didn’t care very much if Rayne agreed or didn’t. “Let’s go, Lune.”

         “All right!”


         “Christmas is very different here with these people,” Keilana commented, snuggling up with Draco in the lounge in front of the upper east fireplace. “They’re so warm. An’ .... happy.”

         “Is my family not a happy one?” Draco asked, twisting a lock of her dark hair around his finger.

         “Well, not offense, but your father is quite the joy-killer.”

         “You wouldn’t know what joy was if it threatened to drown you.”

         Keilana just laid her cheek against Draco’s chest. Hermione was sitting in the recliner at their feet, reading a large, thin book on the flight patterns of the spike-tailed Appalachia red dragon. She looked up at them, and a smile teased her mouth.

         “You two are very comfortable together.”

         “Well, I’ve only owned her for what? A year and a half, thank you.”

         Keilana giggled. “You must be careful, Draco. You’re liable to get yourself lynched, talking about owning me in front of my brother.”

         Draco looked across at Harry, who was dozing in the window seat. Ginny was curled up next to him, tucked under his arm. Draco looked down at Keilana with an amused smirk.

         “I don’t think he’s paying attention right now.”

         “What happened to Ron?” Keilana asked, after she finished laughing.

         “He said he was going to drop by Wizard Rayne’s,” Hermione replied. “It’s Luna that I’m worried about.”

         “Call her.”

         Hermione shrugged helplessly. “She left her cell-phone here. Honestly, she’s so forgetful.”

         “Is she close enough to find?” Draco asked Keilana.

         Keilana closed her eyes. “I do feel her, but she’s quite far―”

         “What is it?” Hermione asked, closing the book.

         “Ron’s with her.”

         Hermione’s knuckles whitened around the spine of the book. Keilana opened her eyes and smiled reassuringly.

         “So are Jackie, Lupin, and Cassi – quite close to them, anyway. I’m not sure who the other person is. Your Wizard Rayne, probably. I don’t take alchemy, so I’m not sure.”

         Hermione relaxed. “Can you talk to them?”

         “They’re too far away,” Keilana replied, shaking her head slightly. A look that was half sincere curiosity and half pure mischief crossed her face. “Do you think I could steal some of Ginny’s glow?”

         Draco looked over at the window seat. “Well, she’s not gonna notice whether it works or not – that’s for sure.”


         “What are you doing here?” Luna said, surprised to find Ron standing in the front of the shop that encompassed the first floor of the Rayne city house. “I thought for sure you’d be slobbering all over Hermione.”

         “I was not slobbering,” Ron rejoined indignantly. “And I was going to get Rayne’s take on the bane stones.”

         “Don’t you trust me?”

         “Nope,” Ron replied with a disarming grin. “What are you doing here?”

         Luna tilted her head slightly, indicating the shop window. Jackie, Cassi, and Lupin were standing on the sidewalk outside. Ron looked back at Luna, and burst out laughing.

         Alerted by the laughter, Rayne appeared from the back of the store. “The sign on the door does say Closed for Business, Ron.” He noticed Luna, who was poking one of his forecast globes. “Can I help you, Miss Lovegood?”

         “I’ll wait until you’re done with Ron.”

         “Any plans for New Year’s, Master?” Ron asked innocently as Rayne accepted the bane stones.

         “This shop is closed,” Rayne said wryly, pulling a black monocle from his pocket. “What does that tell you?”

         “That you’re holed up to pout,” Ron replied seriously.

         Luna giggled, but was interrupted by the sound of the bell hanging above the front door. A figure enshrouded in black from head to toe stepped into the shop. She walked over to the counter and placed fair, elegant hands on the wooden surface. Rayne quickly moved to stand behind the counter.

         “How can I help you, madam?”

         “What makes you think I’m a madam?” replied a sweet voice that Ron and Luna both immediately recognized as Jackie’s.

         “Mademoiselle?” Rayne corrected himself.

         She tittered beneath her oversized cowl. “Much better. I would like two bottles of basilisk blood.”

         Rayne looked surprised. “What are you going to do with something like that?”

         “Is that any of your business?”

         “Somehow I feel it ought to be,” Rayne said, brow furrowed. “Do I know you?”

         Jackie threw back her cowl and smiled up at him. “Do you?”

         Rayne almost fell down. As it was, he groped blindly for the stepladder and sat heavily on the top step. “Jackie?”

         She laughed. “Are you that surprised to see me? Surely they didn’t create that realistic a faux-skin to bury.”

         “You’re alive?!”

         “Kind of slow, ain’t cha, babe?”

         Ron watched the exchange with great interest. In his full summer apprenticeship, he had never once seen Rayne become the least bit ruffled, even when being rushed by wild beasts. The mere sight of Jackie had nearly caused him to faint. Lupin and Cassi had by now entered the shop; they seemed just as amused by Rayne’s reaction.

         Jackie stepped through the counter, becoming solid again as she reached the other side. She put her hands on her knees and bent over to look directly into Rayne’s eyes. “What’s the matter, Reg?” she teased. “Aren’t you glad to see me?”

         His mouth opened and closed several times as he shook his head in wonder. “You’re alive. How could I not be glad?”

         “Does that mean I can hug you?”

         Rayne answered simply by rising and wrapping his arms around the much smaller Jackie. She closed her eyes and wrapped her arms around his waist as he buried his face in her hair.

         “So were you two dating or something?” Ron asked―after a considerate pause, of course.

         “We were engaged,” Jackie replied.



         “Can you hear anything?” Draco asked after they had waited a few more minutes.

         “No, nothing,” Keilana replied.

         “You’re lying,” Draco observed noncommittally.

         Don’t tell Hermione, Keilana replied, vocally continuing, “But that other presence was definitely Rayne.”

         “How can you tell that from so far away?” Harry asked, settling in the recliner across from Hermione. He had been awakened by the minutes of silence, and had gently eased Ginny to the cushions in the window seat before joining them. “They’re in his shop, aren’t they?”

         “Yes, but I can sense their auras very strongly. You were right, Harry. My magic has degenerated far more than this. I shouldn’t be able to sense them at this distance.” She sat up and leaned against the lounge back. “Actually, I never have been able to sense something so far away that clearly. Exactly how far away is his shop?”

         Harry got his map case and spread one of his new charts on the coffee table. “We’re here,” he said, putting his finger on Black Moor, “aaaaaand .... there’s the Apothecary.” He pointed it out with his other hand. “That’s got to be at least four miles.”

         “That’s impossible,” Draco said, shocked. “She’s never been able to sense presence very much farther than she can use Exerency. It was the same way this morning too, when Luna called. She knew you were all here, and that we wouldn’t wake you up by calling so early.”

         “My psychic sense is getting stronger,” Keilana said slowly. “How can that be?”

         “The body compensates,” Harry said after a moment’s thought. “When a person loses his sight, his hearing improves. You and Draco spend so much time mind-speaking, your body must be channeling what’s left of your magic into your mind arts.”

           Keilana pulled her knees to her chin. “Your father’s not going to be happy about this.”

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