Thoughts of Pudding 2012

Chapter 16: Västerlånggatan

Thoughts of Pudding by Brian64.

Chapter 16: Västerlånggatan.

Tuesday 25th June, 1996.

At around three-thirty in the morning, Harry was feeling both very tired and very uncomfortable. He looked over at Fawkes, again, and then got up from the desk, again, to go and check that the rocks were still giving off heat.

He cast the incendio charm a few more times, again, and as he backed up and sat on the edge of his bed, he rubbed his eyes and failed to stifle a yawn. Fawkes looked at him and gave a soft reassuring trill.

"Well, if you're sure you're okay for a bit, I might just have a quick kip. You'll wake me if you need anything, right?" Harry asked, as he covered his mouth from another yawn.

Fawkes let out another trill.

"Yeah… well, I'm just going to assume that means okay. I just need a little while, Fawkes…"

Harry just lay back on his bed, and was out like a light.

It was barely twenty minutes later that he started to fidget as the nightmares began again. He'd had them almost every night since the Ministry; every night except the previous one at the Lovegoods'.

Fawkes looked over at Harry on the bed, and then stood up and shook out his wings. He jumped up off the stone nest Harry had made for him, and with a couple of beats of his wings, he made it to the end of Harry's bed.

He walked awkwardly up alongside Harry's body and curled up next to him before making a soft crooning warble that was almost a purr. Harry immediately relaxed and fell into a dreamless sleep.

~o~

Hermione awoke slowly the next morning, and stretched as she opened her bleary eyes. It took her a moment to remember where she was, and when she did, she also remembered the previous night.

Since she was alone in her bed, she rolled over and looked at Luna's bed only to find the girl dressed and sitting on it, watching her as she woke up. She found it disconcerting to be observed so closely like that.

"Good morning, Hermione." Luna said softly.

"Good morning, Luna." she replied, a little confused. Luna had sounded very subdued for some reason and Hermione wondered why.

"Is something wrong?" she asked, becoming more alert at the thought of a problem.

"I wanted to apologise to you, Hermione. I really don't know what I was thinking last night, but I suspect it was probably the wrackspurts that Harry dislodged yester–" Luna paused and looked down, as though realising that Hermione wouldn't want to hear what she thought about wrackspurts.

"Well, anyway, Hermione, I just wanted to tell you that it wasn't right of me to tell you to talk to Harry about… that… and of course you don't have to do anything that you don't want to do." Luna finished.

Hermione was becoming concerned. The girl seemed almost terrified about something.

"Luna, what's wrong?" Hermione asked, sliding her legs out of the bed and sitting up on the edge as Luna was doing.

"I'm sorry, Hermione. I shouldn't have said those things last night. You've been nothing but a wonderful friend to me, and I shouldn't have troubled you with my problems."

"No, really, Luna, what is it that you are so worried about?" Hermione was getting more anxious the more Luna avoided the problem.

Luna had tears in her eyes now. "I- I can't lose both of you," she whispered.

Hermione rushed over and wrapped the girl in a hug. "Shush, Luna, you won't lose either of us!" she reassured the younger girl.

"But I asked Harry the same questions that I asked you last night before coming to bed. I shouldn't have interfered. He hates it when people do that, and when he realises what I did, he'll… he'll… ha-hate me too."

"He won't hate you Luna, he doesn't have it in him. At worst, he'll be cross with you." Hermione told her.

"He'll never forgive me." Luna insisted in a whisper.

"Oh that's rubbish!" Hermione said firmly. "He's forgiven me before and he forgives Ron all the time because he's his friend. He would definitely forgive you as well if you needed to be forgiven. Which I rather doubt, by the way… Oh, that didn't sound right did it? I mean, I doubt that Harry would think you did anything that would need forgiving."

Hermione pulled back and looked at the younger girl who looked back up at her. When she saw Hermione frown, Luna dropped her eyes to her lap at the silent rebuke.

Hermione reached for Luna's face and lifted her head back up. "No, Luna, I was just thinking that this isn't like you at all. You're always so calm about things, and in control of yourself."

Luna blushed. "Well, I've never had a boyfriend before, and I'm not used to the feelings I have about that. They are very strong. It doesn't help that my cycle is starting, though at least I am used to that."

Hermione couldn't help herself and laughed. "Now that's more like the Luna I know."

Luna smiled shyly back at her, and then her smile dropped. "I do hope you can forgive me some day, Hermione. I am sorry for making you cry last night, and for–"

"I'll forgive you right now on one condition." Hermione said, interrupting her.

"Anything," Luna replied, hopefully.

"I want you to stop trying to apologise to me! Especially when it was just because you wanted to make sure Harry was happy. Honestly, how could you possibly believe that I would want you to apologise for that?"

Luna nodded, and then leaned forward to wrap Hermione up in a hug. "Thank you," she whispered.

After a moment, they separated again, and Hermione started talking.

"Now, I've given this a little thought, and this is what we're… or rather, I'm going to do. If Harry starts up a conversation about, well, you-know-what, I'm going to tell him that I love him like he's my very favourite brother. That way we'll all still be able to be the best of friends. It's true enough anyway," she finished.

Luna stared at her. Hermione tried to maintain eye contact, but kept getting the urge to look away.

"It really is the best solution." Hermione said into the silence.

"Hermione," Luna began softly, "I don't think you've really thought this through very well. I had almost the same conversation with Harry last night, when he told me he didn't try to pursue you himself because he thought Ron wanted you. Do you want to know what I said to him?" she asked.

Hermione bit her bottom lip, knowing that she didn't really want to know, and also that she couldn't help but want to hear it anyway. She nodded to Luna.

"I told Harry that it was very wrong of him, and that what he was really saying was that he didn't think Ron had a chance of competing with him for your affection." Luna looked steadily at Hermione.

"If I am to have any kind of relationship with Harry, it must be based on friendship and love and trust and honesty. I do want him to choose me, very much so, but I want him to make that choice, not anyone else. Not even you."

Hermione nodded, feeling very chastened. "I'm sorry, Luna. I guess... you're right. I didn't really think that through very well, did I?"

Hermione thought for a moment and then chuckled. "I suppose that we've both caught his 'being noble' thing, haven't we? Damn the boy."

They both laughed and started to relax a little.

"So what are we going to do then, Luna?" Hermione asked, breaking the silence that had begun to form.

"Well, I do think the decision should be Harry's," Luna said, "and I think that he should have the chance to make that decision knowing all of the facts, don't you?"

Hermione blushed, and she hesitated before nodding slightly.

"I also think that we should agree not to do anything sneaky or underhanded…" Luna said, pausing as Hermione gave her a hurt look at the implication that she would do something like that.

"… like trying to get him to choose the other girl," she finished, smiling mischievously at Hermione.

"Oh, you! All right, we both play fair, but we both have to swear that whatever decision Harry makes, we accept it, and we don't let it harm our own friendship. Agreed?"

Luna stared at her as though Hermione had just told her she'd won the grand prize in the Daily Prophet's 'Golden Galleons' Draw.

"Luna?"

She was suddenly hit by a blonde haired missile. "I swear, Hermione! Thank you so much!"

Hermione hugged her back. "You're welcome, Luna."

They pulled apart and Luna looked at her expectantly. Hermione smiled. "Yes, Luna, I swear too."

Luna beamed at her. "Ok, so what do we do now?" she asked.

"I have absolutely no idea!" Hermione replied, causing both of them to laugh again.

~o~

What they eventually decided to do was just follow their normal daily routine. Hermione went to have a shower and get dressed, while Luna sat with her father and had some cereal.

"So, pumpkin, how are things going with you and your friends?" he asked.

"Oh, they're going absolutely splendid, Daddy. Harry's my boyfriend now, although he might be Hermione's boyfriend instead soon, as we've been trying to work out a way for her and Harry to talk about their feelings for each other. I am hoping to keep him for myself though, as he's a very nice boyfriend, but no matter which of us he chooses, Hermione and I have sworn to be best friends anyway. Could you pass me the tea, please?" Luna replied.

"Err…" Xenophilius replied intelligently. He had been expecting something like this… well, the bit about having a boyfriend anyway – and maybe the tea. The rest he hadn't been expecting at all. Even with years spent interpreting his amazing daughter, he was having trouble working this out.

"Daddy?"

"Yes, sweetie?" he replied, looking up

She nodded towards the teapot, and he dutifully poured out a cup for her.

"You'll let me know if I can do anything for you, won't you, sweetheart?" Xenophilius said eventually.

"Of course I will, Daddy," she replied.

"I think I like those two friends of yours. From what I've seen and heard so far, they seem like very nice people," he ventured.

Luna smiled widely "Yes, they are, Daddy. I love them. I wish Hermione was my sister."

Xenophilius smiled at her. He wasn't too concerned. She'd loved the Plimpies at one time too, and now she loved Plimpy soup. He shook his head at the sudden thought of her making Hermione soup. No, Luna wouldn't do that, but Fudge would probably start making Goblin soup if he got tired of pies.

~o~

After showering and changing, Hermione saw that Harry's door was still closed, and so she decided to visit with her parents. After greeting the Lovegoods, she told them where she was going, and wasn't too surprised when Luna asked to join her.

They walked in to find the other six members of the group sitting at the table finishing their breakfasts. With all the seats taken, the girls were about to go back to the other tent to bring two more chairs over when Minerva conjured two up for them.

"I trust you remember the incantation, Miss Granger?" Minerva said, hiding a smile.

Hermione blushed. "I forgot that our wands had been cleared of the trace," she said.

"Don't worry about it, but for future reference, Sweden doesn't have any restrictions on underage magic. As long as you maintain the statute of secrecy, you can perform magic here perfectly legally." Minerva said.

The others continued the discussion they'd been having before, which was evidently some sort of recap over Voldemort's tactics during his first war.

Emma leaned over to her daughter. "Is Harry not up yet?" she asked quietly.

Hermione shook her head. "Not yet. It looks like he's having a lie-in this morning."

"Good." Emma replied cryptically. "Can we go for a walk? Your dad and I need to talk to you about something."

She looked over at Luna. "You can come too if you like, Luna. I think you ought to be involved as well."

The four of them excused themselves and walked out of the tent, Hermione following alongside her father in silence as they led the way and followed the trail to the right once they reached the lake. When they stopped about ten minutes later, she wasn't at all surprised to see that Luna had claimed her mother's hand.

"How about making us some chairs or something so that we can have a seat while we chat?" Emma asked her daughter.

Hermione conjured a couple of sofas facing each other, and took a seat. Luna joined her while her parents took the other.

"Hermione, can you tell us a little bit about Harry? How does he seem at the moment?" Dan asked.

Hermione was a little confused at the question, but answered anyway. "He seems a bit more emotional than he usually is; more 'on edge' is how I would describe it. After the Ministry fiasco he had just about shut down, if you know what I mean, but he's been better the last couple of days. He does seem to go from being very serious to joking around the way he used to fairly quickly, though. Why?"

Dan and Emma looked at each other as though this had confirmed something for them.

"Honey, it sounds as though your friend is suffering from a great deal of stress. He's had a horrible year from what you've written us, and at the end of it, his friends are hurt and his Godfather is killed. Not to mention he's also told that he's in a 'kill-or-be-killed' prophecy with the most evil wizard there is. So it's hardly surprising that he's having trouble coping with it." Emma said.

Hermione became more upset as her mother spoke. It was obvious when she thought about it like that. It really had been a very long year for Harry after all, and his problems hadn't just started with the night at the Ministry.

Then again, the previous year wasn't a picnic for him either. What with the Tri-Wizard Tournament and watching Cedric die in front of him, and everything else.

How could she have overlooked all this? Why hadn't she fought to have Harry spend the summer after the tournament away from the Dursleys?

Instead, she'd let the headmaster talk her into not writing to him, just when he'd have needed his friends the most. It was little wonder that he was so angry when the Order finally brought him to Grimmauld Place.

"Hermione? What is it?" Emma asked, as she watched the tears falling down her daughter's face.

Hermione looked at her, wondering how to tell her parents what she'd been thinking.

"There's more isn't there? Things you haven't put in your letters?" she guessed, and when Hermione nodded, Emma shook her head in exasperation. That poor boy had more than enough to be getting on with from what she already knew.

Her mother's expression worried Hermione even more, and she unconsciously echoed her mother's earlier words. "Mum? What is it?" she asked, feeling her worry starting to escalate towards panic.

"Hmm?" Emma asked, looking up from whatever she'd been staring at while thinking, and saw her daughter's expression. She couldn't help but notice that Luna didn't look as calm as she usually did either. The girl seemed to have a death grip on Hermione's hand.

"Oh, it's nothing more to worry about, love. I was just thinking what to do about Harry."

"What can we do to help him?" Hermione asked, almost immediately.

"You have to understand that we aren't experts in this, Hermione. It's just that we've been reading up a bit about what can happen to people after going through traumatic situations like what happened at the ministry. We couldn't help noticing that Harry matches up with some of what we read." Emma said.

"Originally, we were worried that you might end up suffering from it, although you seem to be fine. Perhaps magical people are a bit hardier than, err, Muggles." Dan said, joining in. "I suppose being only a spell or a potion away from a cure for most things does tend to remove some of the fear, doesn't it?" he mused aloud, his question mostly rhetorical.

Hermione nodded anyway. That seemed to make sense to her as well.

Dan took up the discussion from Emma to show that they were both involved. "Based on your reaction to the news that Harry has to be the one to fight this Voldemort, your mother and I think that this is probably the main cause of his stress. He probably also has some survivor's guilt because his Godfather died, and on top of that I expect he's probably got some guilt over leading you all to the Ministry in the first place as well. Especially since you all got hurt."

Hermione bristled at the implied blame. "It wasn't his fault! He didn't even want us to go with him!"

"I didn't say it was his fault, hon. I'm just saying that if he was leading the mission, then he probably feels responsible for the outcome." Dan said, soothingly.

Hermione nodded, while feeling quite embarrassed by her snap defence of Harry. She should have understood the distinction without having to have it explained. She really needed to pull herself together. "So what can we do for him?" she asked anxiously.

"Well, just be there for him, mainly. He'll need his friends, and with his mood swings he'll probably have a hard time keeping them." Emma said, before deciding that wouldn't be a problem for these two girls, judging by their expressions.

"Try and get him to talk through what is bothering him, if you can. That will help take some of the load off his shoulders." Dan said. "I think the training is a good idea, as it will help him feel like he's doing something constructive, but he needs time to relax."

Dan turned his head to face Luna. "You were spot-on about that, Luna. We'll help argue with the others, and Harry as well if need be to make sure he has time off. Is there anything he particularly likes to do?"

Hermione thought of something and then gasped.

"What is it?" her mother asked.

"Well, it just occurred to me that there is something Harry liked to do more than just about anything, but I don't know if he's even interested in it now." Hermione said, biting her lip.

"Harry loves to fly." Luna volunteered.

"But he doesn't want to do that anymore? Emma asked.

"Well ever since the toad– I mean, ever since Madam Umbridge threw him off the Quidditch team, he hasn't flown his broom at all. She confiscated it and chained it up." Hermione replied.

"Has he asked about it since she's been gone? Does he even know where his broom is?" Her father asked, sounding concerned.

"I don't know. I'll have to ask Professor McGonagall," she replied sadly, and more than a little annoyed with herself for not even noticing.

"Well, here's an idea to be getting on with," Emma said. "How about we go shopping this afternoon in Stockholm? We can visit that goblin bank of yours and find out whether the wizarding shops here take galleons or Krona."

Emma thought of something else and looked at Luna. "We'll also need to get some currency converted ourselves, as we can't keep letting your father pay for everything, Luna."

Luna shrugged, as if it didn't matter either way.

"So, anything else you girls want to talk about before we head back?" Emma asked.

The girls looked at each other and then turned back and shook their heads.

Emma raised an eyebrow and gave both of them a mother's look for a few seconds, before smiling. "Alright, we'll leave it at that then. You know where to find us when you're ready. Let's go back and see if Harry is awake yet."

They all stood up, and Hermione vanished the sofas. Emma walked over to Hermione and gave her a hug. "Those sofas were incredible, love. I can't wait to see some more of your magic now that you can use it around us."

Her father echoed his wife's praise, and Hermione thanked them both. They talked a little about spells as they walked back in the same pairs as they'd walked out, though this time Hermione had taken her dad's hand.

~o~

When the soft knocking failed to provoke a response, Hermione slowly opened Harry's bedroom door and stepped inside his room, followed by Luna.

Hermione's eyes were immediately glued to the phoenix that was staring directly at her. After several long seconds, the phoenix turned his attention to Luna, and his head bobbed slightly as he stared at her.

Meanwhile, Hermione was now free to take in the rest of the bedroom. She could see Harry was sleeping on his side in the clothes he'd been wearing the night before. He was almost curled around the phoenix and had an arm across its body protectively. His face looked the most peaceful she'd seen it since the Ministry. Then again, she didn't have many opportunities to observe him sleeping.

She stepped to the side of the bed and reached a hand towards Harry. The phoenix's head immediately whipped around from his observation of Luna and fixed her with a stare. Hermione paused and then withdrew her hand slowly. She didn't know whether it was just observation or a warning not to touch him, but she didn't need to push the issue.

"Harry. Ha-a-a-arry. It's time to wake up. Come on, Harry…"

She paused and thought for a moment. Perhaps he needed a little more motivation to wake up. "Malfoy, get away from Luna!" she said, a mischievous smile working its way onto her face.

There was an annoyed sound from the phoenix as he was jostled when Harry all but exploded out of the bed. His wand was in his hand, but Hermione hadn't seen him draw it.

Harry squinted as he looked around, confused at finding everything normal. He wrote off the comment he thought he'd heard as nothing more than part of a bad dream.

He looked at the bushy head next to him, and greeted her with a yawn. "Morning, Hermione. I don't suppose you've seen my glasses, have you? Oh wait; Accio glasses."

His glasses came hurtling towards him from under his pillow, and as he was facing the other way when he cast the spell, by rights they should have hit him in the back of the head. Fortunately, Fawkes had let out a warning trill as the pillow moved, and Harry spun around and was able to snatch the glasses in mid-air once they came within range.

"Thanks Fawkes" he said, placing the glasses on his head. "Oh, good morning, Luna" he said, smiling as he looked around the room and finally noticed that his girlfriend was in the doorway.

He walked over to her and gave her a hug, but when he leaned down to kiss her lips, she turned her head to the side so he could kiss her cheek instead. She turned back to him after he pulled away; his face still showing the disappointment he'd failed to hide at her rejection.

She smiled at him and kissed his cheek. "Brush your teeth first, and then you can have a proper kiss," she told him, and he smiled at her in relief.

"Aren't you going to introduce us to your new friend, Harry?" Luna asked.

"Of course. Ok, Fawkes, this is Luna Lovegood, and this is Hermione Granger. Ladies, this is Fawkes… I think. Well, I'm pretty sure this is the headmaster's phoenix, as I don't know of any others. He's not quite fully grown yet, and Fawkes reverted back to a chick when he took a killing curse for the headmaster at the Ministry."

Harry reached over and stroked the phoenix while he talked, and Fawkes appeared to appreciate the attention. "You're looking a lot better than you were last night, Fawkes. Maybe the heat helped perk you up a bit, hmm?"

He gestured for the girls to sit on the bed so they were closer to Fawkes, and then showed them where the phoenix liked to be scratched.

"He flamed in last night while I was working on my assignment. He was shivering and kinda shrunk in on himself I guess, and I figured since he was a phoenix, he probably preferred things to be hot. So I made him a kind of stone nest with some hot rocks to warm him up."

He saw Hermione look over at his transfiguration, and then get up to inspect it.

"It's not very good, I know. I should have taken a little longer with the visualisation, but Fawkes was–"

"Oh, shush, Harry. It looks perfectly functional and I expect Fawkes would agree." Hermione said, and the phoenix let out a happy trill to everyone's surprise.

"There, you see, Fawkes was happy with it. When did you make it?" she asked.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. A couple of hours after Luna left I guess."

"Well, that would have made his arrival about 10 o'clock then. Not bad Harry, for a rushed transfiguration, it has kept its shape for about 12 hours so far." Hermione said.

"Well, to be honest I think Fawkes might have had something to do with that, because now that I think about it, this doesn't look anything like as rough as it did last night."

Hermione just nodded her head. Harry hated getting credit for something he didn't think he'd done, and there was no point arguing with him about it.

"So anyway, what brings you two in here waking me up – did you miss me or something?" he asked playfully.

Luna nodded. "Yes, we did, but we also want you to hurry up and get ready because Emma wants to do something called 'retail therapy' while we are out. Make sure you put on your new clothes please, Harry, we haven't seen you in them yet."

Harry nodded. "Alright, I won't be long."

He rummaged around in his trunk for some toiletries, then grabbed the clothes he intended to wear, and headed for the bathroom.

Fawkes let out a trill before he was out the door, and Harry turned back to him.

"Oh, don't be such a baby, Fawkes. The girls won't hurt you unless they try hugging you to death. Personally, that's how I'd want to go."

He smirked at their grins, and left for his shower.

As soon as he left, Hermione headed straight for his desk, and the assignment he'd been working on. She thought she'd done very well not to have pounced on it the second he'd mentioned it.

Magical Post Owls; My Experiences, Observations and Theories.

By Harry James Potter.

It is my great honour and pleasure to be the companion of a beautiful and highly intelligent Magical Post Owl, whom I named Hedwig with her agreement. Since much of what I will be writing about is based on my experiences with her, I will begin by introducing her to you.

From my research in a library soon after I first obtained her, I learned that a Muggle Professor (called a scientist) would classify Hedwig as a 'Bubo scandiacus', or possibly even a 'Nyctea scandiaca', if they hadn't kept up to date with new discoveries.

You or I would recognise her as a Snowy Owl. She is white with black speckles, and is approximately 26 inches long. She is diurnal rather than nocturnal, and therefore she is active during the daytime.

I haven't seen all of the things she catches to eat, but whenever I've been really hungry, Hedwig always brings me food; usually mice, sometimes a small rabbit, but she even brought me a fish once.

Hedwig is mostly silent, and does not make the traditional 'hoot' usually expected of owls. Instead she makes sounds such as a guttural "krufff-guh-guh-guk" when she is attacking her prey, and "hooo-uh, hooo-uh, hooo-uh, wuh-wuh-wuh" when she is excited. I have also heard her make dog-like barks, rattling cackles, shrieks, hisses, and the clicks from her bill-snapping.

She is very emotive, and communicates her emotions to me through her body language and light nibbling of my fingers when she's happy with me.

My relationship with Hedwig began when a friend bought her for me for my eleventh birthday. Hedwig and I spent a very close month together before I began my schooling at Hogwarts. During that time, and afterwards, I treated her as my friend; talking constantly to her and petting her. She–

"Hermione?"

Hermione looked around, startled. She'd forgotten all about Luna being in the room with her.

"I'm sorry Luna, it's just… " Hermione couldn't work out how to describe what she was thinking, so she took the long parchment with her to Harry's bed and sat down next to Luna, so they could read it together.

They read about his theory that post owls probably used a form of legilimency in order to learn where to deliver their mail, since they obviously couldn't read. The thought of hatchling owls learning their ABCs was ludicrous. For that matter, how could they understand spoken English, when it took people years to learn the language? Harry thought it made much more sense for the owls to understand the intent of the sender by interpreting it directly from the sender's mind.

He also proposed a number of tests for his theories, including;

– Having a skilled occlumens attempt to send an owl out while occluding their thoughts.

– Having a regular person attempt to send an owl out with a blank envelope and no spoken instruction, but while thinking of a specific destination.

– Having someone handed a letter addressed by someone else, and then have that person attempt to send an owl out while having no idea who the person named on the envelope was, or any idea where the address shown is… and so on.

Hermione was amazed as Harry proposed test after test designed to help prove or disprove one of his theories.

As she finished the paper she passed it over to Luna, who was still reading, and stood up. Her mind was racing with the ideas in the paper, and she couldn't sit still. She wanted to try some of the tests if she could.

More to the point, though, was the question that had been running through her head since she started reading: How had Harry written this?

She turned around and found herself suddenly facing Harry who was standing in the doorway looking at her. He was wearing the emerald green dress shirt and black pants her mother picked out, and, in her biased opinion, he'd never looked more fanciable.

"Oh, Harry, you startled me." Hermione said, turning red. "I was just, umm, reading your paper on Post Owls. I didn't mean to… well, actually, I did want to look at it, but…"

Hermione paused, realising she was not being entirely honest and changed the topic. "Harry, when did you write this?"

"I wrote it after Luna left last night; before Fawkes arrived," he replied.

"You wrote this in only two hours?" Hermione asked, amazed.

"Well, not really. I spent the first hour thinking about… something else," he said, not looking at her.

If he had been looking, he'd have noticed the blush that appeared on her face as she guessed that he would have been thinking about her. Unless there was something else Luna had spoken to him about.

Then a thought worked its way to back to the top of her head. "Harry, are you telling me that the assignment I just read took you only one hour to write?" she asked him, surprised.

He nodded his reply, and then seeing her open her mouth to ask something, he got in first. "Hermione, you have to understand, most of that is really about Hedwig. It only took me about as long as it takes to dip a quill in ink for me to write about her. As for the rest, well, I've been thinking about that off and on since Professor McGonagall mentioned it yesterday. Don't forget we had all that time on the train and the bus from Linköping."

He shrugged. "Some of the ideas I've had for a while anyway, so really, it took me a lot longer to put that all together, and all I did last night was just write it out."

Hermione thought about what he'd said, and it seemed he was determined not to accept any praise for what he'd accomplished with his excellent paper. She tried to work out how to explain it to him when she had an epiphany.

She leaned down to where Luna was still sitting on his bed, and whispered in her ear.

Luna smiled at her and nodded, then stood up, and walked to Harry.

"Do you trust me, Harry?" she asked him seriously.

Harry nodded. "Yes. I trust you. Both of you," he said, looking from Luna to Hermione.

"Good. Then trust us when we tell you that your assignment is extraordinary work, and that although you might have been thinking of these ideas for a while, the ability to put them all together the way you have in only an hour is also quite excellent. We're both very proud of you." Luna said.

She gave him a moment to process that before she continued. "Now, let's take your assignment to Professor McGonagall, and go shopping."

She concluded by giving him a brief kiss, and then grabbing his hand to lead him out of the room.

As he started to leave the bedroom, Fawkes gave a trill and then flew to his shoulder.

Harry tried to look at the fairly large swan-like phoenix perched on his left shoulder out of the corner of his eye, and by tilting his head. Fawkes obligingly leaned forward and bent his neck; effectively looking at him upside down. Fawkes then turned his head inquisitively, which made him look even more comical to Harry, who just laughed at the bird's antics.

"All right, Fawkes, I guess I can't keep you from coming with me anyway, can I?" he said, still smiling.

With that settled, they resumed their exit, and headed for the other tent where they found everyone else.

~o~

To say that Harry made quite an entrance in his new clothes and with a phoenix on his shoulder would be something of an understatement.

All conversation in the crowded room stopped for a second, and then there were questions thrown from all of the order members, except for Tonks, who just said, "Oh, bloody hell!"

She and Moody had both drawn their wands at the sight of the phoenix, though their attention was on the doorway and who else might be entering behind the teens, rather than Fawkes or those already in the tent.

"Fawkes?" Professor McGonagall said to the phoenix directly, before turning to Harry.

"Mr Po– Harry, why is Fawkes with you? Is Professor Dumbledore here?" Minerva asked.

Everyone stopped talking in order to hear his reply.

"I have no idea where Professor Dumbledore is. Fawkes flamed in last night, and he wasn't in a particularly good shape. He was cold and trembling so I, umm, helped warm him up, and looked after him."

As everyone continued to just look at him, he felt the need to explain his actions a bit more. "I, uh, suppose I should have woken someone up, but really, I just didn't think about it. I was more worried about Fawkes," he finished, slightly embarrassed.

Moody was the first to reply. "You do realise that bird can just flame you away back to Privet Drive, or the headmaster's office, or any other bloody place that takes its fancy?"

"Yeah, I do. So what's your point?" Harry asked defensively, still peeved with the man for telling everyone about his cupboard yesterday.

"So do you really want it to be hanging onto your shoulder like that?" Moody asked gruffly.

"Like you said, he can flame wherever he wants to, with or without me. So what do you expect me to do about it? I mean, let's face it, if he wanted to take me anywhere, don't you think I'd already be gone?" Harry asked.

Since he couldn't resist having a dig at Moody, he added another question. "Since I'm still here, it seems to me he's quite happy to respect my wishes rather than do whatever he feels like doing, wouldn't you say?"

Moody picked up on it straight away, and called him on it. "Alright, Potter, you've made your point. Now grow up and get over it. We don't have time for snits."

"What I don't have time for is exchanging one well-meaning but opinionated person for another! If you're just going to do whatever you want regardless of what I want, then what makes you any different to the Headmaster?" Harry said, glaring angrily at him.

Moody glared right back at him. "I'm glad to see you'll stand up for yourself, boy. You keep that in mind the next time you see Snape or Dumbledore. But you've got a lot of work to do when it comes to picking your fights. You're way out of line taking that attitude with me! But now is not the time to discuss it." Moody growled back.

Harry was about to retort again, but Luna squeezed his hand. He took the hint and let the issue slide, for now.

An uncomfortable silence followed that no one felt like breaking.

Eventually, Hermione cleared her throat and handed Harry's assignment to Professor McGonagall. She explained what it was, and asked her to make several copies before sending the original off.

Before letting go of the scroll she looked at her professor. "In answer to the first question you'll have after reading this; No, I didn't. That is 100 per cent Harry James Potter's work. Luna and I have only just finished reading it ourselves"

After gaining Harry's permission, Minerva made half a dozen copies for Hermione with the Geminio charm, and handed them to her. She kept one for herself, and rolled up the original ready to post when they reached Stockholm.

Minerva started to read her copy while waiting for everyone else to get ready to go out.

She was still reading ten minutes after everyone that needed to get changed had returned from their bedrooms. She ignored the calls for her to come and put her finger on the Portkey, with an irritated wave that could be interpreted as either; 'just wait a bit,' or; 'leave without me,' depending on the observer's frustration level.

Finally, she finished reading, and even turned it over to make sure nothing had been added to the other side. She looked up to see everyone waiting for her impatiently, so she rolled the assignment up.

She looked over at Hermione, "Are you sure you didn't…?" she asked.

Hermione appeared to expect this and smirked as she shook her head, before nodding in Harry's direction.

"Mr– I'm sorry. Old habits die hard. Harry, I would like to talk to you about this sometime at your convenience, please. May I also send a couple of copies off to some other people while we're in Stockholm? I know Hagrid would very much like to read this."

Hermione laughed as she imagined Hagrid's comments after reading the assignment, and couldn't help but share it with the others. "Oh, I can hear him now! 'Wha? 'Arry wrote this? Oh 'e never did, did 'e? Blimey! I reckon 'e sure knows summat abou' owls then, bless 'im. An' 'e's got some good ideas ter boot!'" Hermione said, attempting fairly successfully to mimic Hagrid's accent.

The teens all laughed of course, as did Tonks and Remus. The Grangers smiled, not really knowing Hagrid, and Professor McGonagall seemed to be trying to hide a smile of her own. Xenophilius looked around at everyone else as though trying to work out what the joke was, while Moody just huffed with impatience.

"Perhaps we could get going if we are still going to?" he said, managing to annoy mostly everyone.

Hermione pulled out the scroll that Vanir had made into a Portkey the previous day, and after unrolling it, she cast an engorgio charm on the parchment to make it easier for everyone to place a finger on it.

"Everybody ready?" she asked. "Ok, 3, 2, 1, Gringotts!" Hermione said, activating the Portkey.

~o~

When the Portkey deposited Harry and the others in front of Gringotts, he wasn't sure whether he should be more surprised that he was still standing, or that the bank looked exactly like the one in Diagon Alley.

Feeling the urge to get inside quickly, he looked around at the group and nodded towards the bank. After taking Luna's hand, they all walked inside.

As Harry walked through the bronze outer doors, he couldn't help but notice the same engraving on the inner silver doors as in Diagon Alley. 'Enter, stranger, but take heed…' he began to read, and then looked outside again to make sure he really wasn't back in London.

Wherever they were, except for Gringotts it certainly didn't look anything like Diagon Alley. Shaking his head, he turned back and entered the same vast marble hall he remembered.

He looked over at Hermione and gestured for her to lead the way to the counter, so that she could conduct whatever business it was that she wanted the Portkey for in the first place.

"All right, come on then," she said, gesturing for Harry to follow her. He looked at Luna and shrugged, before they both followed Hermione up to a counter.

Hermione looked up at the goblin scowling down at her from his high desk. "Umm, well…. The first thing we'd like to do is to notify Gringotts of some temporary contact arrangements for one of its vault holders." Hermione said to the goblin.

"Very well, what is the vault holder's name?" the goblin asked.

"Harry James Potter," she replied.

Harry looked at Hermione with some surprise, and gave her an 'I hope you plan on explaining this to me later' look.

The goblin looked at her with some surprise, and then looked at Harry, his eyes flicking to his scar, and then widening slightly as he appeared to suddenly notice the phoenix on his shoulder.

"I believe Mr Harry James Potter has some outstanding business with Gringotts that we have been trying to contact him about. One minute while I confirm," the Goblin said, before pulling out a ledger and flicking through it.

Hermione nodded sadly as though she had been expecting this, and Harry wondered what it might be. Had Mrs Weasley lost his key after borrowing it to buy his school supplies or something?

The Goblin looked up. "I will have someone attend to you. Griphook!" he called.

"Oh, no way!" Harry blurted out in disbelief. He shook his head as though trying to clear it as he watched a familiar looking goblin walk up to him. It was hard to forget either his first Gringotts cart ride, or the goblin that had taken him to his vault.

"This way, please, Mr Potter." Griphook said stiffly.

"What about my friends?" Harry asked.

"They may accompany you or not as you decide." Griphook replied.

"Well in that case, they're all coming… if they want to, that is."

He looked around at the others briefly before looking back and finding that Griphook was already walking away.

They all hurried after the swiftly moving goblin, who led them to an office. "Wait here, please." he instructed the group and stepped inside.

He was back shortly afterwards. "Director Ragnok will see you now," he said, waving them through the door, which he closed once everyone had stepped inside.

The office contained a large desk with an important goblin behind it, if the size of the desk and the opulence of the office was any guide.

The goblin, Ragnok, called to Harry. "Please come and take a seat, Mr Potter."

Harry walked up to the chair in front of the desk with Luna, but since there was only one chair he didn't sit down until Luna almost pushed him into it, and then sat on his lap.

He heard a few chuckles behind him, and realised his relationship with Luna had just become public knowledge. He wondered why she insisted on remaining so close.

"Mr Potter, there are some matters we need to discuss with you. The most pressing being that we need to schedule a will reading as soon as possible. As the primary beneficiary, we will be working to your schedule."

Harry had thought he was recovering quite well from the loss of Sirius less than two weeks ago, but caught by surprise as he was, he really wasn't ready for such a… serious matter. He tried to find some humour in the pun, but it didn't work.

"Which will? The Potters' or Sirius Black's?" he heard Luna ask.

"Sirius Black's." Ragnok said, and then frowned. "Why would you ask about the Potters' will?"

"Because I don't think it has been read yet. He is the last of the Potters, but do you see a ring on his hand?"

"No, I don't. I'll look into it," he said unhappily, writing a note on a piece of parchment.

"Will eleven o'clock tomorrow morning suit you, Mr Potter?" Ragnok asked.

Luna nudged him out of his thoughts. "Eleven o'clock tomorrow for the will reading, Harry. Is that okay with you?" she asked him.

Harry looked up at her, nodded, and then went back to his brooding.

Ragnok made another note on his parchment. "Very well, I shall inform the others that need to attend. Griphook will assist you if you require any other business. I shall see you tomorrow morning." Ragnok stood up, the dismissal obvious to all but Harry, who hadn't noticed.

He did notice it when Luna slid off his lap, though, and he let her help him up.

"Come on, Harry, let's go and get some money out of your vault so we can go shopping and you can buy me something nice. I'd really like to go on a cart ride!"

She kept up a constant conversation with him as they and the others saw Griphook for various reasons. He was able to provide Harry with a replacement key to his vault, and, once he and Luna boarded a cart, he took them to vault 687.

"Griphook, how is that I entered Gringotts in Stockholm, and now I'm presumably outside exactly the same vault as if I'd come in to Gringotts from Diagon Alley?

Griphook hesitated before replying. "Gringotts has many doors, but there is only one Gringotts."

"I see," said Harry, thinking about that for a minute. "Tell me, is it possible for someone to leave by a different door than the one they entered, if they wished?"

"You wish to leave Gringotts at Diagon Alley?" Griphook guessed.

Harry nodded. "I might sometime."

"It… may be possible." Griphook replied, hesitantly. "The magic at the entrance sets your exit point. We might be able to reset your exit destination, but this isn't something that we would wish to have become common knowledge. I'm sure you can understand why."

"Oh, yes, of course." Luna said quickly, and Harry nodded as well. Ministries around the world would have no idea who was entering or exiting their countries, not to mention the loss of international Portkey tariffs.

"You will need to talk to Director Ragnok tomorrow after the reading if you wish to change your exit door." Griphook advised him, before looking again at the phoenix on Harry's shoulder. If Griphook wondered why Harry didn't simply get the phoenix to take him wherever he wanted to go, he didn't want to know badly enough to ask the question.

Once inside his vault, Harry thought that the mounds of coins were the same size as when he'd first entered the vault with Hagrid at age 11. He wondered why they weren't smaller, since he'd been spending money for his school supplies and other purchases for the last 5 years.

Shrugging, he filled his money bag with a large supply of galleons, and thought about inviting Luna to help herself to some as well. In the end he decided not to say anything in case the gesture was misinterpreted.

Before long, everyone had completed their business at the bank, and they all met up in the entry hall.

"So, are we all ready to shop 'til we drop?" Emma asked them all in an excited tone.

Harry couldn't help but grin a little as the females in their party, Professor McGonagall excluded, all started talking over each other about some of the things they intended to look for in Västerlånggatan.

He felt Luna squeeze his hand and he looked over at her to see a big smile on her face. "Don't forget, you're going to buy me something nice!" she said airily.

He laughed at her boldness, and wondered if anyone else could have made such a statement without him feeling even the slightest trace of annoyance at their presumption.

As they started to leave, Harry eyed the main doors with some suspicion, wondering how they worked. Surely if he followed someone that had entered the bank from Diagon Alley, then he'd notice them disappear at some point, wouldn't he?

After following a witch out the door, he was a little disappointed when she just walked off down the street.

Maybe tomorrow, he thought. Then he forgot all about the bank as his stomach growled, reminding him that he'd missed breakfast.

He joined in the discussion about where to go first, adding his vote for an early lunch. His vote was quickly seconded by Hermione who also appeared to have missed out. The group agreed, and they all set out in search of a café or restaurant.

"I wonder what they have for pudding here?" Luna asked as they walked along.

~o~

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