Chapter Two – We Need to Talk

A shimmer of silvery motes erupted in the alcove behind a dusty suit of armour. Shaking her head, Luna looked around to see that she was, indeed, alone in the seventh floor hallway. Resisting the pervy urge to head back to her apartment in Ravenclaw Tower, she nodded and began humming a song as she stepped out into the hallway. Walking casually over to the portrait hole, Luna smiled as she let her eyes unfocus a bit as she waited for the Gryffindor guardian to notice her. Seeing the smiling portrait turn to acknowledge her, Luna blinked twice and nodded.

“Hello Viola, how are you doing today?”

Chuckling, the portrait blushed a bit. “Luna dear, it’s good to see you. Dame Gladstone tells me you’ve been a naughty witch this term.”

Blushing a bit herself, Luna rolled her eyes as she thought about the gossipy portrait that hung near the stairwell in the Ravenclaw commons. “Lady G has too much spare time on her hands these days if she’s paying attention to my comings and goings.” Smiling conspiratorially, she leaned close to the portrait. “Just a secret between us witches, eh?”

Laughing, Viola shrugged. “You know Aribella, she’s not got a malicious brush stroke in her, but she doesn’t always think before she gossips. You’re pretty much below the horizon for most of the professional gossips around here, but dear Lavender has been interested in what you’ve been keeping yourself up to since the start of term.”

Frowning a bit in concentration, Luna shrugged. “Lav really needs to get a life, or at least start living the one she’s playing at.” Seeing the knowing look on the portrait, she smiled. “I would have thought that Dean could keep her interest sufficiently to let the rest of us go unscathed.”

Chortling, the Fat Lady winked. “Haven’t you heard? They’re rowing right now. It seems that they were taking a kip together last weekend up in his dorm and he mentioned another witch’s name in his sleep.”

“Anyone I know?” Curious, Luna started to grow a bit impatient as her time cushion was slipping away.

Shrugging, Viola gestured with her hands as her eyes twinkled. “I’ve never heard directly, but she did cast a minor tripping jinx in Ginny Weasley’s direction as she came storming down the stairs.”

“That’s really old news; they were together back in fourth and fifth years for a couple of short periods of time.” Resisting the urge to add, ‘along with every other wizard Ginevra could get her hands on’, Luna shook her head. “You know I love to chat, but I do need to get in and speak to someone.”

Looking a bit surprised, Viola arched an eyebrow at her. “No one’s home, right at the moment. Are you certain the wizard you need to ‘talk’ to is home?”

Widening her eyes, as if she was surprised, Luna smiled. “Really? I need to talk to Harry and I distinctly thought he was heading up here after he left the Great Hall.” Thinking for a second, Luna let her mind wander a bit as she thought forward. “The password is ‘Conium Maculatum’ isn’t it?” Seeing the portrait nod, she sighed. “They really need to stop letting Neville pick the passwords. People are going to think that Gryffindor is vying to replace Slytherin if he keeps up picking dodgy potions materials.”

As the portrait began to swing open, Luna stepped through into the Gryffindor common room. Looking around, she saw that the area was indeed as the portrait had indicated empty. Smiling, she seated herself on the arm of the chesterfield near the fireplace and awaited her quarry. Allowing her fingers to brush against the vial in her pocket, she nodded and tried to block out the echoes of what was occurring over in Ravenclaw tower at this precise moment. Only blushing slightly, she decided that it was slightly ridiculous to feel like a voyeur under the current circumstances. She smiled as she heard the portrait door open.

Watching the entrance, the smile faded as she saw an obviously distraught Harry come storming into the common room. Seeing him staring blindly towards the entrance from the Head’s quarters across the way, Luna waited for a few seconds before announcing herself. The regret and longing on Harry’s face, mixed with a confused bitterness tugged at her as she dialed up a neutral smile. “Harry?”

Starting, Harry jerked around and focused his piercing gaze on her. Refusing to look down from his challenging stare, Luna’s silvery gaze matched Harry’s emerald stare for a few seconds before he visibly shook himself. “Luna, I wasn’t expecting anyone to be up here.”

Smiling knowingly, she shrugged. “It’s a Hogsmeade weekend, the weather is perfect and Hagrid’s allowing thestral rides so I can see why no one’s around.” Nodding as if it were the most natural thing in the world, she smiled warmly at him. “We need to talk, and unlike the rest of your friends, I’m really not prepared to take ‘no’ for an answer.”

Refusing to be put off by the annoyance on his face, Luna held her impassive gaze on him while she watched the emotions play across his face. Unfocusing a bit, she could see the fuzziness of his true self that had appeared during his sixth year was still faintly there. Mentally cursing her red-haired friend, Luna waited until she could see Harry was about to speak before she added. “Don’t make me invoke ‘Prefect’s Privilege’.”

Harry started for a second, staring at Luna with marked curiosity after that. “And just how would you do that, Prefect Lovegood? Seeing as I’m a Gryffindor and Head Boy, a Ravenclaw prefect invoking privilege would be very irregular, don’t you think?”

Smiling mysteriously, Luna nodded. Knowing that the first round belonged to her once she had gotten him to actually talk to her, she relaxed a bit. “Harry, I think eight years of being Hermione’s best mate would have taught you the folly of arguing with witches who care about you.” Seeing the slight scowl at the mention of Hermione’s name, Luna continued quickly. “You were appointed Head Boy without being a prefect yourself, correct?”

Nodding warily, seeing where this was going, Harry smile ruefully. “Correct Luna. I never served as a Gryffindor prefect.”

“And the Heads are supposed to be neutral examples of Hogwarts, correct?” Seeing him nod again with a bemused expression on his face, she continued. “Which is why Hogwarts: A History details them as ‘being a member of no House, and all Houses’, correct?”

Sighing, Harry nodded. “Yes, it does.”

Smiling impishly, Luna finished. “And since that makes you a non-prefect Ravenclaw, it’s really not outside the scope of my duties for me to claim privilege in a case where a member of my House is obviously upset and not seeking to resolve the issue in a clear rational manner.”

Bowing to the inevitable, Harry chuckled. “You do know that Hermione occasionally allows me to win an argument just for the sake of appearances, don’t you?”

Nodding wisely, Luna smiled. “Of course she does. That’s what love does. But this one is too important for me to allow my affection for you to override circumstances.” Seeing the sour look on his face, she mentally rolled her eyes as she pointed up the steps. “Why don’t we head up to your old dorm and talk? No one’s going to bother us if we’re up there.”

Shaking her head at the look on his face, Luna tried to look positive. “Harry, it won’t hurt a bit.” As he started to head towards the stairwell, she blinked as she remembered something. “Harry, humor me for a second. What’s the current password for the portrait out there?”

Stopping in surprise, Harry peered at Luna for a couple of seconds before speaking. “Luna, you’re already in here, certainly you know the password is ‘Conium Maculatum’, right?”

Nodding, Luna smiled as she felt the ringing in her wand lessen. “I do now.” Seeing Crookshanks peering at them from the top of the steps, she smiled. “Let’s go up and get comfortable while we talk, shall we?”

Walking up the steps together, Harry trudged like a prisoner heading to his execution while Luna skipped merrily. Entering the dorm of the current Gryffindor wizards who were the ‘Seven pluses’, Luna shook her head at the general disarray to the room. Harry’s area was very neat, since he virtually spent no time there, with Neville’s coming in a close second. But their neatness was more than offset by the untidiness of the other three occupants of the room. Shaking her head, Luna marveled for a couple of seconds and the level of untidiness of Ronald’s area considering the amount of time he spent there. Gryffindor didn’t afford separate rooms for their prefects, but Ron’s area rivaled Seamus’ for intensity of clutter.

Perching herself on Harry’s bed, Luna smiled as Harry begrudgingly set himself on the bed a couple of feet away from her. Smiling, she waited until he settled in and looked up at her expectantly. “Harry, I want to talk to you about a couple of witches we both know.”

Looking distinctly displeased, Harry shrugged. “Shouldn’t you be talking to them about whatever this is about?”

Shaking her head, Luna smiled mysteriously. “Actually, no. This will be resolved on your end much more easily.” Nodding at the scowl Harry flashed her, she shrugged. “But first, care to share what set you off down in the Great Hall? That really wasn’t like you, you know.”

Sighing, Harry blushed a bit. “It’s getting a bit much, I suppose I did look like a total git down there.” Seeing the encouraging look on Luna’s face, he nodded to her. “Between Ginny not taking any sort of hint that we’re not getting back together, including me saying specifically we’re not getting back together, and Hermione thinking I’m some sort of idiot who can’t be let out on his own, I just lost my temper this morning.”

“Harry, Hermione thinks many things about you, but I’m certain that you being an idiot isn’t one of them. It’s been a while since you two have rowed. What’s the matter this time?”

Leaning back on the bed, Harry stared at the ceiling, as if for inspiration. “I don’t know. And this just proves I am a world class idiot. Hermione’s been there for me for seven very long, very strange years, and I honestly don’t know what I’d do without her. I just get frustrated because something just feels off between us, and I can’t put a name to it.” Looking over at Luna, Harry stared at her for several seconds. “Every time I think I’m getting close to figuring it out, something either comes along and sidetracks me or I run into this mental wall that won’t let me break through to what I need to see to resolve things with her.”

Nodding, Luna looked at Harry solemnly. “I think I understand, Harry. And this all ties into what I need to talk to you about.”

“Luna, if you can help me suss this out, I’ll be in your debt forever. It’s driving me mental. What is it that you want to talk about? You mentioned ‘two witches’?”

“Actually Harry, what I need to talk about concerns you, and my needing to ask your forgiveness for something.” Looking a bit abashed, Luna looked down after telling Harry that.

Puzzled, Harry sat back up and stared at his friend for almost a minute before he spoke. “Luna, I’m not certain what this is about, but I am certain of two things. The first is I refuse to believe that you’ve ever done something deliberately to hurt me or cause me pain, so I’m not certain what it is you think you need my forgiveness for.” Waiting until the younger witch looked up at him, Harry smiled reassuringly at her. When he was certain he had her attention, he continued. “The second thing I’m certain of is that if you have inadvertently done something or kept a confidence that you now regret, there isn’t any question about my forgiveness. We’ve been through too much together to allow regrets to stand between us.”

Nodding, Luna could feel the tears prickling at her eyes. Realizing that this was long overdue, she released the breath she had been holding. “I hope you feel that way after all of this is finished. Just before the start of term my fifth year, Ginevra came to me asking for help acquiring some potions materials.” Pausing, she watched Harry to see if he was following her.

Looking perplexed, Harry’s brows knitted together. “I know that Severus was difficult to deal with, but why would she think you had access to things she couldn’t get down in the potions dungeon once the term started?”

Sighing, she began toying with the ends of her hair. “The Weasleys live near my house, you know that. Well, my mum was a certified potions mistress in her day. Actually she applied for the teaching position here that Professor Snape filled. She kept working with potions after he got the position at our house; she had a complete workspace out back from the house in those days.”

Looking up at Harry, she smiled sadly. “The explosion that killed her destroyed the lab, but her materials storage area survived. Since I inherited some of her hand at potions work, I’ve been able to convince Daddy to rebuild and keep the lab stocked over the years since I’ve started Hogwarts. Ginny asked me for Dryad’s Tears.”

Watching Harry and seeing he was still not following, she sighed. “There are a couple of things that Dryad’s Tears can be used for, and most of them are fairly beneficial and benign for the most part.”

Still looking a bit confused, Harry smiled. “That’s good, I suppose. I’m still not certain why you feel compelled to think I would need to forgive you for helping Ginny.”

Causally reaching up, Luna removed her wand from behind her ear and began to twirl her hair around it, causing it to curl slightly. “She said that she wanted to brew a potion that would cushion her fall if she lost her seat during quidditch...” Pausing for a second, she continued. “I didn’t think anything of it until you and Hermione started to row over next to nothing.”

Scowling as he thought back to his sixth year, Harry shook his head slightly. “What did Ginny’s cushioning potion have to do with me being an idiot and a prat and not being there for Hermione?”

Nodding, Luna lowered her hands to her lap, allowing her wand to point in Harry’s direction. “The problem is, the one potion that isn’t benign that requires Dryad’s Tears takes the real emotions that one person feels for another and transfers them to a third person by contaminating the first relationship. By the time I realized what was happening, it was too late.”

Shaking his head, Harry stared at Luna. “I don’t think I follow. Ginny’s potion caused me to sabotage my friendship with Hermione?”

Sighing, Luna mentally rolled her eyes and muttered an exasperated ‘boys’ to herself before answering. “Even though you were the only one who took it, the potion would have had an effect on both you and Hermione. And it wasn’t your friendship it was stealing; Ginevra had no need of that since the two of you were, as far as you knew, friends already.” Seeing the mystified look on Harry’s face, she squared her shoulders and continued. “What she did was steal the love you two had for each other and redirected it to herself.”

The shock on Harry’s face was total. “That’s preposterous. Hermione?”

Nodding sadly, Luna continued. “Yes, Harry. Ginevra dosed you for months with a potion called Dryad’s Kiss. It binds a wizard to a witch by subverting the love he feels for another witch.” Seeing the disbelief in Harry’s eyes, she waited to see what he was going to do.

“That’s preposterous; Ginny would never do anything like that. And as for the two of us loving each other, it’s ridiculous. She’s like a sister to me.”

Laughing, Luna found herself repeating herself from earlier/later. “Oh please, Harry. Don’t be a baboon’s backside.” Seeing Harry’s determined look, she held up her hand to forestall his reply. “Let me guess, you started feeling as if there was a presence inside you that reacted when Ginny was around, correct?”

Stunned, Harry thought back to the ‘chest monster’ that had arisen during his sixth year when Ginny was around and he paled. “How could you know that?”

“One of the symptoms of Dryad’s Kiss, the feeling of some internal force that was beyond the victim’s control whenever the target of the potion was within range.” Shaking her head sadly, Luna stared at Harry. “I’m so sorry; I didn’t suss it out until it was too late.”

Going from stunned to angry, Harry began thinking over the end of his sixth year. “It was all a lie?”

Nodding sadly, Luna sighed. “What you felt for Ginevra, yes. And the distance it created between you and Hermione was a lie too. The two of you would have probably figured things out for yourselves if she hadn’t interfered.”

Staring at Luna for several seconds, Harry shook his head. “I’m still having difficulty with that part of the concept. For this to have worked, the two of us would have to have been in love with each other. And I broke up with Ginny at Professor Dumbledore’s funeral.”

Nodding, Luna kept watching Harry closely as she replied. “The shock of Professor Dumbledore’s death right in front of you broke that part of the charm and severely weakened the rest of it. The Headmaster was the closest thing you had ever had to a grandparent and the sorrow from that loss broke most of the connection to Ginevra and partially restored your connection to Hermione. The depth of the love the two of you have for each other must be significant considering the distance that came between the two of you and your infatuation with Ginevra that resulted.” Shaking her head, Luna sighed. “Not to mention the fact that it seems to be still impacting you.”

Looking thunderous, Harry sat for well over a minute and stared at a space between the two of them. When he looked back up, Luna could see that he was very disturbed. “How can I be certain of this?”

Smiling, Luna reached into her pocket with her off hand and removed the small vial that she didn’t remember brewing, yet. Holding it up, she nodded. “With this.”

Tossing the vial to him, Luna waited for Harry to open it. Seeing the sheen of the potion within, and the spirals that appeared above the open mouth, Harry stared at her in disbelief. “You want to give me Amortentia? Isn’t my being tricked into loving one witch bad enough without making it two?”

Shaking her head, Luna smiled. “Harry, the Potions Masters here always are a bit deceptive about Amortentia when they discuss it with their classes. It’s true that it’s the most powerful love potion in the world, but it’s not because it creates love, it reveals it. A single dose of Amortentia will strip away all illusions and pretensions and allow the imbiber to instantaneously realize exactly who it is he or she actually loves.” Seeing the skeptical look on his face, she nodded encouragingly

“Think about it, the potion smells differently to each person, depending upon what that person actually desires. How could it do that if it was tied to a specific individual?”

Nodding grudgingly, Harry contemplated the vial in his hand. “If I take this, it will make clear to me who I’m actually attracted to?”

Nodding encouragingly, Luna smiled. “Harry, after you drink that, everything will be crystal clear.”

Taking the vial, he held it up to his nose; it still reminded him of treacle tart. The broomstick scent was gone, replaced by the smoky musty smell he associated with the common room that he and Hermione shared as Head Boy and Girl. The floral scent he remembered was there, but strangely now it didn’t smell like Ginny’s perfume, but something that was tantalizingly familiar. Looking up at Luna, he studied his friend for several seconds. Seeing the obvious concern and affection she had for him in her eyes, Harry nodded and said. “Cheers” as he downed the potion in one gulp.

As the potion hit home, he began to feel a bit disoriented. Suddenly, there was a pop as if something inside him was expelled. Images began to flash into his mind. The train ride to Hogwarts when Hermione came into their compartment. Rocketing into the girls’ lavatory and issuing a battle cry as he leaped on the back of a twelve foot troll. Sitting in the hospital wing, watching her lie there paralyzed. Riding to rescue Sirius on Buckbeak. The scent of Hermione’s shampoo from the bath in the Burrow. Hermione’s support and unconditional acceptance during the tournament. His heart stopping when she was struck by that curse in the Department of Mysteries and how his heart restarted when Neville said she had a pulse. The concern she had for him when they rescued him from Privet Drive. Christmas in the Godric’s Hollow. Her being tortured by Bellatrix Lestrange because of him. The last thing that he thought of before going to die. The one thing that brought him back.

Taking a deep breath, Harry felt it all come together in his mind. Staring at Luna, Harry growled, “I’m going to kill that little witch.”

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